Recycling the dump

The proposed redesign of the Bar Harbor solid waste transfer station should make a trip to the “dump” much easier for residents and business owners. The new disposal building will feature two drive-through lanes, eliminating the need for people to back up to access the hopper.

And it will have a separate lane for commercial haulers. Currently, all other use must come to a screeching halt when the gate is opened and a large garbage truck needs to back up and empty a load. Along with the delay, others in line currently have to endure walking through the aromatic gray water that pours out of those trucks despite the best efforts of attendants to rinse it away immediately afterwards.

Best of all, however, is the plan to incorporate zero-sort recycling into the facility.

There is perhaps no greater obstacle to getting a higher rate of compliance from the general population than the requirement to sort out 10 kinds of plastic, different types of paper and cardboard, as well as various metals. Trying to determine the recycling type of various plastics is often difficult. Many homeowners that otherwise would be disposed to recycle just avoid the confusion by including those materials in general garbage.

The new Fiberite plant now under construction will feature zero-sort recycling at that facility. Doing this in one central location makes economic sense. The consolidation of larger volumes of these materials in one place, and the greater storage capacity, should make finding markets for them easier. That will lower solid waste disposal costs for everyone.

Bar Harbor’s solid waste transfer station is located on the site a former municipal trash incinerator. The decision years ago to locate what amounted to a large, foul, smoke-producing boiler on the edge of a beautiful valley that is part of Acadia National Park seems, in hindsight, rather careless. It eventually was replaced with the present facility, which accommodates trucks that haul the trash to the PERC trash-to-energy plant in Orrington. In the next iteration, another “recycling” of that site, if you will, the trash will go to a state-of-art facility that will manufacture useable biogas. Combined with the hoped-for increase in recycling, the new transfer facility will be a very visible, yet much-less-impactful, manifestation of the town’s dedication to handling solid waste in the most environmentally-responsible manner possible.

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