BAR HARBOR — The new Fiberight facility in Hampden that will process Bar Harbor’s waste and recycling will be fully operational by August, according to Public Works Director Chip Reeves.
Reeves told town councilors on Tuesday that the facility is coming online in stages. “The material recycling facility part of the plant will start this month,” Reeves said, “and start single-sort recycling in April.”
The pulper and anaerobic digesters to turn trash into biofuel will come online “around June,” he said. “By July or August [the plant will be] operating at full capacity,” he said.
Reeves is the board president of Municipal Review Committee, which represents the group of communities that have contracted with the Maryland-based company Fiberight to handle their waste in the new facility.
Shelby Wright of Coastal Resources of Maine, which manages the Hampden facility for Fiberight, spoke to councilors about the new plant. Once the new plant is up and running it will accept trash and single-sort recycling. However, there are changes to what kind of recycling is accepted. Plastics No. 3 – No. 7 will no longer be accepted in recycling: only the higher quality No. 1 and No. 2 plastics. Glass will no longer be accepted.
On the other hand, plastic bags are acceptable for recycling. New metal products such as empty aerosol cans and pots and pans will now be recyclable. In addition, acceptable paper products will include milk and juice cartons, catalogs, drink box containers and pizza boxes.
“We recycle things other facilities can’t,” Wright said. “It’s brand new technology… the first of its kind built in the United States.”
The trash processing side of the facility works without an incinerator.
For this reason, Reeves cautioned, some of the larger items that could be incinerated will no longer be accepted at the transfer station.
“We need to reeducate people,” Reeves acknowledged. “Burning trash hides a lot of sins.” He said even though the transfer station has never allowed construction materials, tires, or mattresses, in the past this was not always strictly enforced. “We’ve already taken steps locally of cracking down on those [items],” he said, in preparation for the switch to the new facility.
Construction of Fiberight’s $69 million facility began in July 2017. An initial opening date of April 2018 was subsequently pushed back to October 2018, then January 2019, and finally to April 2019. The company has cited winter weather and a lawsuit filed by the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. (PERC) as reasons for the delays.
With Fiberight’s opening now delayed a full year, the MRC, which represents 115 municipalities in Maine, has been forced to send its waste to the Juniper Ridge Landfill in Old Town. This also has coincided with a downturn in the global recycling market. As a result, many smaller communities have begun eliminating their recycling programs, and an increasing amount of recyclable material is being sent to landfills.
Bar Harbor made the decision to shoulder the extra cost of continuing to recycle. Until the Fiberight facility opens, the town’s recycling is taken to Casella Waste Systems in Auburn via the transfer station in Old Town.