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Manager reports 10-20 percent contamination in 'Silver Bullet' recycling bins

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Plastic bags are killing us.

Plastic bags are the most common contaminant ecomaine is finding in "Silver Bullet" recycling bins transported from behind Cape Elizabeth Town Hall, Town Manager Matthew Sturgis reported to the Town Council at their meeting July 9, 2018.

If we don't do better, we're going to be charged, Sturgis said. "It's not a question of if, it's a question of when the town may end up getting charged for that," he said.

This spring ecomaine, the waste-management facility that processes Cape Elizabeth's solid waste and recycling, announced it would soon enforce policies that allow charging for contaminated loads of recycling - loads that contain materials such as food, non-rigid plastics or other things that aren't recyclable.

As a member community Cape Elizabeth has not been charged for recycling, but loads with 10 or more percent contamination could be charged as much as if it were solid waste.

Compactors at the Recycling Center are containing less than 5 percent contaminants, Sturgis said, but the recycling bins behind Town Hall are averaging 10-20 percent. "Recent loads had shown such contaminated items as metal yard decor, tarps, and there were two wakeboards that apparently didn't make it through the Fourth of July holiday but they made it to the silver bullets," Sturgis said.

A pool ladder and a shower curtain are other examples of recent contaminants found behind Town Hall.

"So the important thing is that we all need to work on our recycling and to improve that," Sturgis said, and he offered three bits of advice:

  • If you bag up your recyclables, empty the bag into the recycling bin and throw the bag away.
  • Download the ecomaine recyclopedia app for your smartphone [ Google | Apple ] or consult the ecomaine website with questions about what can be recycled, or,
  • "If you are in doubt, throw it out."

Odds and ends

Sturgis also included the following in his July 2018 report:

  • Town offices were closed the afternoon of June 29 for a successful end-of-fiscal-year closeout. The town had collected all but $70,000 of its $30.5 million property tax commitment, with only 15 of the town's 4,500 properties unpaid.
  • Congratulations to Community Services Director Kathy Raftice and Library Director Kyle Neugebauer for completing the seven-week "Leadership Academy" program at Southern Maine Community College.