Future of recyling

To the Editor:

As voters at this year’s town meeting in Bar Harbor have shown, we are ready to make a stand when it comes to improving our recycling facilities. As someone who has spent a great deal of time traveling the world, I have always felt a bit let down when I come home to our dilapidated recycling shed, which only accepts a small fraction of what could potentially be recycled. I am happy that we have finally come together to take a step into the future and join other communities across the country and across the globe to increase our recycling output.

Since, fundamentally, recycled material is a marketable commodity, a single-sort facility is one step closer to streamlining our waste products to market.

So it is with alarm that I read recent reports that our country’s largest trade partner will cease their acquisition of our waste products. As China begins to eclipse the United States as the world’s largest producer of solid waste, their own domestic environmental concerns have begun to come into focus. This has led their State Council to make the decision to stop importing most foreign waste products, including eight types of postconsumer plastic, after Dec. 31.

Until we can find another buyer for our recycled material or develop domestic industries to turn these commodities into finished and marketable products, our recycling will build up in warehouses until it is ultimately diverted to landfills.

This, contrary to my own instinct, does make me wonder about the long-term economic viability of our proposed recycling facility. Is the $2.5 million approved by voters at the June town meeting a value investment for taxpayers? Or will the new shed simply be an expensive lawn ornament?

Luke Wagner

Bar Harbor


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