Gary Friedman, a town councilor in Bar Harbor. At a council meeting Tuesday, Friedmann expressed concerns that delays in the construction of the Fiberight facility may disincentivize people to recycle. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Fiberight delays mean big costs

BAR HARBOR — Delays in construction of the new Fiberight waste disposal facility in Hampden, originally planned to open April 1, are costing the town a lot of money in recycling fees.

The cost per ton for single-sort recycling at Fiberight would be $35, according to Public Works Director Chip Reeves, but currently the town is paying $120 per ton. Trash, by comparison, is $70 a ton.

“I am extremely concerned about the delays,” Town Councilor Gary Friedmann said at Tuesday’s council meeting. “We’ve gotten into a situation where people are disincentivized to recycle, and we have to turn that around here.

“If Fiberight was working now like it was supposed to be, we’d be sending that stuff to the facility,” he continued. “We are looking at just the opposite, it’s almost $100 a ton more for single sort.”

Reeves said the town’s single sort is currently going to a Casella facility in Old Town and then being made into larger loads and hauled to their sorting facility in Lewiston.

Reeves said tariffs and limited demand for U.S. recycled material have caused a jump in the price of recycling.

“I wouldn’t advocate moving away from single sort,” Reeves said. “I think one option we have is that when the Fiberight facility is in the start-up phase, there’s an opportunity to take some of that material to help start that machinery up at no cost,” suggesting stockpiling recycling at the facility.

Councilor Matt Hochman said the financial side of single-sort recycling probably does not deter residents.

“The people who are recycling aren’t doing it for financial reasons,” Hochman said. “They’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do.”

Friedmann suggested charging a fee for dumping trash.

Greg Lounder, executive director of the Municipal Review Committee, a group of towns that has contracted to use the Fiberight facility, told councilors the construction delays were mostly due not to weather but to legal challenges.

Lounder said the MRC received its state regulatory approvals to build the Fiberight plant in fall 2016. He said on the last day of the 30-day period where parties could appeal the approvals, an appeal from a “group of organized opponents” snared the project for about seven months.

“That impacted the financing schedules,” he said. “It ground the financing process to a halt, and we weren’t able to get clear of the court process … until May of last year. That 230 or so days had a significant impact on our overall schedule.”

He said the tentative date for the facility to be operational is Sept. 20, significantly later than Fiberight CEO Craig Stuart-Paul’s February statement that the facility would open in July. Lounder said the contractors, Cianbro, are in the process of updating the schedule.

“That will be restated within two to three weeks,” Lounder said. “All I’m certain of is that Sep. 20 date and the schedule will be different. It could be longer, my hope of course, it’s less.”

Some members of the MRC have continued hauling to Penobscot Energy Recovery Company in Orrington, with whom the MRC had a contract until April 1 and where the trash is burned to create electricity. Others haul to Waste Management’s Crossroads Landfill in Norridgewock.

Councilors took no action on the topic.

Samuel Shepherd

Samuel Shepherd

Samuel Shepherd is a University of Maine graduate and a former Bar Harbor reporter for the Mount Desert Islander.
Samuel Shepherd

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