Brewer News

Pay-as-you-throw works for Brewer

Posted Jan. 14, 2016, at 9:24 a.m.- Bangor Daily News

The odd Jan. 6 Bangor Daily News OpEd about trash disposal completely mischaracterizes pay-as-you-throw programs, which are a fair and equitable way to increase recycling and reduce waste. Brewer recently marked the five-year anniversary of its pay-as-you-throw program, which, since its inception in 2011, has resulted in a 370 percent increase in residential recycling and a more than 50 percent decrease in trash the city sends to Penobscot Energy Recovery Co.

The avoided disposal costs and revenue from our pay-as-you-throw program helps keep our tax rate stable — something our residents and businesses appreciate. It has enhanced the equity of Brewer’s tax structure because people pay for only the trash they themselves generate. Program savings cover a significant portion of curbside collection costs, so our commercial taxpayers no longer subsidize this purely residential service. To minimize the cost impact of pay-as-you-throw to our residents, particularly our elderly and low-income neighbors, Brewer significantly enhanced its recycling program to provide households a free way to reduce trash that requires disposal.

Brewer continues to look ahead for cost-effective, innovative solutions to manage solid waste generated within its borders. Later this month, the City Council will consider joining the Municipal Review Committee, of which Brewer is a member, to develop the next generation recycling facility for our region. The Fiberight project in Hampden promises to keep disposal rates affordable and divert even more recyclables from our trash, all while transforming the organic content of the waste into high-value energy products.

Karen Fussell
Finance director
City of Brewer