Nov. 8 vote nears on future of trash disposal for four towns
ROCKPORT — Jim Guerra, manager of the Mid-Coast Solid Waste transfer station, believes the Nov. 8 ballot question asking voters in Camden, Rockport, Hope and Lincolnville to contract with ecomaine of Portland for up to five years for trash disposal, beginning in 2018, is a good compromise for the community.
Leading up to the Nov. 8 vote, Guerra and a representative from ecomaine will be speaking at Select Board meetings to "discuss the benefits of a 'yes' vote." Upcoming meetings are: Lincolnville Select Board, Oct. 24, 6 p.m.; Hope Select Board, Oct. 25, 6 p.m., Camden Select Board, Nov. 1, 6:30 p.m.
"It holds all four communities together," he said, echoing a theme returned to frequently by the Mid-Coast Board of Directors, who deliberated over the summer on an option to present to voters.
"It resolves the bulk of the issues," Guerra said. For Guerra, these issues include "the risky start-up period," during which Fiberight, a competitor in the trash business, plans to build a new facility in Hampden, and establishes "a relationship with a viable and reputable alternative,"
Guerra believes contracting with ecomaine also provides Camden, Rockport, Hope and Lincolnville the opportunity to determine the viability of the option in Hampden, and the potential of joining as a new member in the future.
Guerra points to the benefits of "at least $1.2 million," that will be released to the four MCSW member towns when they depart from the Municipal Review Committee, a coalition of towns currently joined together for the purpose of contracting with the Penobscot Energy Recovery Facility in Orono. The funds could be invested in the transfer station in Rockport, according to Guerra. He has many years of expertise operating transfer stations, and supports proposals to improve recycling, develop "more robust diversion and composting programs," education in the schools, and increase hauling efficiency.
Any improvements would involve a new layout at the transfer station in Rockport, to provide more room for yard waste and composting, and making usable materials available to the public.
Increasing hauling efficiency means getting more trash in the trucks that transport it to PERC now, or ecomaine, post 2018. "Our average load of trash is 18 tons going to PERC," he said. "If we increase that to 26-28 tons per load, it reduces trips by about a third." That efficiency, saves money and reduced the transfer station's carbon footprint, he explained. This change would require a rebuild, similar to what Rockland uses now, so that trash is dumped directly into the trailers, then hydraulically compacted.
Guerra explains that measures of how much waste is recycled are constantly changing, and can be misleading, because MCSW does not capture the trash that is hauled, or recycled, from commercial entities. Guerra said a decision needs to be made about single sort recycling, which has been shown to increase participation.
Education was another issue frequently discussed this summer by the MCSW board. MCSW will have access to ecomaine's award winning education program, Guerra said.
Courier Publications reporter Susan Mustapich can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.