ROCKPORT — Jon Elwell works at a table strewn with small engine parts and tools in a building labeled, “Regeneration” at Mid-Coast Solid Waste Corp.

He has two lawnmowers taken apart. One is being cannibalized for parts and the other is awaiting a rebuilt carburetor.

Repaired bicycles await new owners at the Mid-Coast Solid Waste facility in Rockport. Photo by Daniel Dunkle

Elwell said he enjoys the work, the challenge of scrounging just the right part to take what once was destined for the scrap metal pile and turning it into a working machine again.

The transfer station has been working to save what it can both at the Pick of the Litter Swap Shop and in other areas, as people come there daily to get rid of their household trash and recycle.

The organization had a grant from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to start the program and in the first year repaired and repurposed 23 bicycles, 17 lawnmowers, four Weed Whackers, one power washer, two chainsaws, two snow blowers and two leaf blowers.

“Regeneration” is the word for the new life given to scrap metal items at Mid-Coast Solid Waste in Rockport. Photo by Daniel Dunkle

Elwell used to work as a machinist in the U.S. Coast Guard and as a line technician at car dealerships. His uncle in Spruce Head taught him the art of small engine repair.

“Good man with a mower,” he said.

He gets a sense of accomplishment from seeing items, such as a recently repaired Spiderman bicycle, leave with new owners who are happy to have them.

“Seeing people take it is important to me,” he said.

The workshop is the domain of parts, tools, work tables, heavy-duty lights and all of the bikes and machines awaiting repair.

The finished products are displayed up at the main office and during this busy summer there are plans to have help from Rotary Club volunteers in assisting visitors seeking to buy the items.

The bicycles go for about $10 a piece. A mower might cost as much as $25. Both tend to go fast.

Camden Public Works Director and Mid-Coast Solid Waste interim manager David St. Laurent said the operation is an example of “5S”: Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain. This methodology serves as the basis of setting up work stations where this kind of recycling can take place. He has experience that includes working both in Rockland and now in Camden and Rockport.

This project is only one of several activities going on daily at the Mid-Coast Solid Waste facility on Union Street in Rockport.

This lawnmower, assigned to the scrap metal pile, may cut grass again this summer thanks to the Mid-Coast Solid Waste program of fixing up things that can be salvaged. Photo by Daniel Dunkle