A trash truck empties trash cans on S. Park Street in Bangor in this file photo from January 2021. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Old Town residents can expect to receive larger trash bins and weekly recycling pickup as part of an improved curbside program launching in October.

Pine Tree Waste, which is part of Casella Waste Systems, provides 64-gallon recycling bins to residents now and services them every other week, Casella spokesperson Jeff Weld said. That will shift to 96-gallon bins and recycling on a weekly basis to accommodate the city’s recycling program, which has grown over the past decade, he said.

“They [residents] have continually maintained the highest recycling rate of all our curbside collection communities in Penobscot County,” he said, estimating the rate is about 25 percent.

The changes are part of a new five-year contract with Pine Tree Waste, which will cost the city $415,000 for the first year. It means Old Town will join cities such as Bangor in implementing a curbside system designed to better serve the needs of residents and be safer for those collecting trash.

Residents will also notice a change in how their trash is collected. An “automated side load” system, involving an arm attached to the truck that lifts the bins and empties them, will be used. Bangor has relied on this method of trash collection for three years, and it is the only place in Penobscot County that does it, Weld said.

It’s safer, more efficient and it keeps streets looking cleaner compared with traditional trash collection where a worker rides on the back of the truck, he said.

There are safety concerns associated with that, particularly icy and slippery weather conditions and when workers are around other vehicles that may not be paying attention. There is also the risk of injury from manually loading 20,000 pounds of material a day into the back of a truck, Weld said.

Old Town’s City Council agreed to the contract during its meeting Monday, though residents aren’t likely to see changes until early October because the plastic trash bins need to be ordered and delivered.

Residents would continue using green pay-as-you-throw trash bags and moving bins to the curbside prior to 7 a.m., and trash collection will remain weekly, Weld said. Waste and recycling will be picked up together, though some residents may see this happen on a different day of the week than they are used to.

Those changes will be communicated to them through a postcard mailer as well as an online map featuring color-coded collection days, Weld said.

Casella has provided curbside waste and recycling pickup to Old Town for more than 15 years. For more than a decade, residents have participated in a pay-as-you-throw program. They were able to use their own containers of various sizes for trash, Weld said.

The 64-gallon recycling bins were introduced in Old Town in the fall of 2014 in an effort to get more residents to participate in Casella’s recycling program, he said.