To the Editor:
With the introduction of LD 1639 “An Act To Protect the Health and Welfare of Maine Communities and Reduce Harmful Solid Waste,” the future of construction and demolition debris (CDD) recycling in Maine has been brought to the forefront, and that future is grim.
To focus just on “out-of-state” CDD waste, as LD 1639 does, means we are missing the bigger picture of the environmental impact Maine’s own waste is having on a larger scale.
Casella agrees it’s time to have a serious discussion about how we can recycle more in-state generated CDD waste and ultimately beneficially reuse materials recovered from it. In its efforts to eliminate some out-of-state waste, LD 1639 removes any CDD recycling mandates, puts over 75 people out of a job, closes a necessary recycling facility and, in doing so, ensures that no in-state CDD gets recycled. Grim, indeed.
Currently, the processing facilities in the state only process a fraction of Maine’s CDD generated in state due to geographical location and transportation expense.
According to the Maine DEP’s bi-annual report on statewide waste generation released this year, the amount of CDD generated in Maine in 2018 and 2019 was approximately 900,000 tons. Of that amount 2.3 percent (21,000 tons) was recycled leaving the remaining 879,000 tons of in-state CDD unprocessed and landfilled. In comparison to Maine-generated CDD of 900,000 tons, the amount of out-of-state CDD waste processed and recycled in Maine in the same timeframe was approximately 215,000 tons – most at the Resource facility in Lewiston. This facility is currently investing $1.5 million in equipment to dramatically improve recovery and recycling rates for both in-state and out-of-state CDD.
In the bigger picture, the fight against CDD coming into Maine for processing and recycling is going after low-hanging fruit when the tree is rotten.
A genuine environmental vision instead calls us to develop more infrastructure in Maine to process and recycle the 879,000 tons of in-state generated CDD waste that is currently being landfilled raw when beneficial uses are available for that material if it were processed and recycled.
Shelby D. Wright
Casella Eastern region manager of engagement