Penboscot Bay Press Compass Logo

Penobscot Bay Press
Community Information Services

News Feature

Blue Hill
Originally published in Castine Patriot, April 4, 2019 and Island Ad-Vantages, April 4, 2019 and The Weekly Packet, April 4, 2019
Fiberight starts operations at Hampden facility
Transfer station ‘first in line’ to send waste

by Anne Berleant

Fiberight, the new waste-to-biofuel facility in Hampden, will begin accepting materials this month, and the Blue Hill-Surry Transfer Station is “first in line,” Director of Community Services Shelby Wright told the Solid Waste Committee March 26 at Blue Hill Town Hall.

The committee signed a 15-year contract with MRC/Fiberight in 2016. At the time, Fiberight said it would be up and running by April 2018, when MRC’s 30-year contract with Penobscot Energy Recovery Company ended.

A year later, the $70 million, 144,000-square-foot facility has accepted its first recyclable materials, with solid waste arriving later this month.

Wright pointed to legal challenges to the project’s environmental permits as the reason for the delay.

She also explained the facility’s recycling program, which partners with Coastal Resources of Maine and is a separate contract from that of solid waste.

While a single-stream program, it excludes glass and plastics #3-#7, currently accepted in the transfer station’s single-stream program, which started in September 2016.

Although a steep drop in the commodities market followed, and recycling processors began to landfill recyclables, the station continued its single-stream program, sending the recyclables to PERC, where material is burned to produce electricity. The station also encouraged separating cardboard and metals, which the station could sell.

But under the contract with Coastal Resources, the price will go up if select recyclables are pulled, Wright said.

“You can’t pull out the valuables [without] negotiating a different tipping fee,” Wright said.

The contract details a 50 percent reduction from solid waste tipping fees for recyclables, or $35 per ton. The $70-per-ton fee for solid waste is variable and tied to the consumer price index.

“I think $52.50 is too close to $70,” Blue Hill Selectman Vaughn Leach said. “Even if [we] pull out cardboard, [recyclables] are still likely to be contaminated.”

Recyclables must have a below-10 percent contamination rate to qualify for the reduced cost, a concern for committee members.

“We just got [people] educated to throw [everything] in,” Surry Selectman Bill Matlock said.

Recyclable material will also be sorted from municipal solid waste at the facility, Wright said.

With no deadline for signing the recycling contract—the offer is on the table as long as the transfer station is an MRC member—selectmen were in no hurry, and plan a vote at their April 23 meeting.