TREMONT — Ever since the Coastal Resources of Maine plant in Hampden shut down last year, residents have been wondering what to do about their household recyclable materials.
During a Select Board meeting on Monday, the town’s Acadia Disposal District representative Carey Donovan asked if the town could figure out whether it made sense to start recycling again.
“What I’m hearing now from area recycling centers is they are getting a good price for their recycling,” she said, after explaining how the market for recycled materials crashed in 2018. “There are people in town who really want to recycle… What I’d like to do it look at the available options and see what works best.”
Members of the board unanimously voted in favor of having Town Manager Jesse Dunbar investigate what options the town has for recycling.
When the recycling bins were removed from the town office in February 2020, residents were told to include recyclables with their trash that would be brought to the innovative new plant in Hampden. But it shut down just a few months later.
Ever since, the town’s recycling materials have continued to go into the same container as household trash. Mingled together, the household waste is brought to Eastern Maine Recycling (EMR) in Southwest Harbor until it is shipped to either Penobscot Energy Recovery Company or a landfill.
“Are you recycling at all?” Select Board member Kevin Buck asked EMR representative Lee Worcester during the meeting.
“No, we are not,” said Worcester in response. “We made the change when we shifted to doing things with Fiberight (Coastal Resources of Maine).”
Three of the towns on Mount Desert Island bring their solid waste to EMR’s transfer station. Residents in those towns, as well as Worcester and others within the solid waste business, have been waiting patiently for a new buyer of the Hampden plant to avoid shifting gears on recycling once again.
“Even if they did find a buyer in the near future, it would probably be the better part of a year,” said Worcester about when waste items could be brought there again. “I agree with Carey. There’s a lot of interest in the fact that we’re not recycling and people would like to see that we are.”