To the Editor:
As someone who has carefully separated recyclables from trash for quite a while, my town’s recent change to a single stream system made me uneasy. A mechanized system of sorting trash? How would that work? As I understood it, the Coastal Resources of Maine (Fiberight) company had combined elements of methods, used in Europe and elsewhere, to allow them to separate trash in a way that is quite new. However, with all the delays getting the facility up and running, and recent news of a mishap, I wondered if the system was flawed and that my recyclables were ending up in a landfill.
Today I got to visit the facility in Hamden, and I have good news. The process is working! The trash is dropped off in a huge warehouse where it’s loaded onto belts that carry it through a series of stages. Most of the cardboard, paper, metal and #1 and #2 plastic are being extracted and recycled. The other plastics are being made into an engineered fuel for which a market is being sought. The food and other organic materials undergo anaerobic digestion to be converted into a biogas to run the operation. Any remaining waste goes to a landfill.
At peak efficiency it is estimated that 80 percent of materials received would be recycled, currently it’s about 55 percent. Since only 25 percent of consumers were recycling a portion of their trash before the change, this is a vast improvement. The process is still not perfect, but that’s not necessarily the company’s fault. We all need to think about what we put in the trash. A propane tank would seem to be questionable throwaway; nevertheless, a punctured tank caused a recent explosion, and a plant slowdown. Any rope, tarp or hose over three feet can get caught in the machinery and bring work to a grinding halt. A list of items that should not be sent to CRM can be found at the company’s website: www.coastalresourcesme.com. In most cases there are existing systems for recycling tires, batteries, bottles and plastic bags/film.
I asked the company representative what she’d most like the public to know about Coastal Resources of Maine. She answered, “I’d just like them to know that we’re getting recycling done.”