We’ve talked in past Talkin’ Trash posts about the how to’s of recycling, but just what happens to the things we put in recycling? Locally, most recyclables go the Lincoln County Recycling (LCR) Plant in Wiscasset. Pemaquid Watershed Association’s Environmental Actions steering committee had an informative tour of the facility last summer. LCR is the oldest municipal recycling program in New England, taking in recyclables from approximately 28 towns in and around Lincoln County who have joined in the cooperative recycling effort.
After sorting and bailing, the goods are sold to various companies, many of them here in Maine, who then further move or process the items. Although prices and availabilities may change where the recyclables end up, typically glass goes to a recycling facility in Lisbon Falls. Mixed paper and newsprint goes to Fairfield, and some of it may be shipped to China. Cardboard goes to Canada. LCR no longer deals with eWaste. It is instead collected by North Coast Services headquartered in Portsmouth, NH, but with consolidation points in Bangor and Scarborough.
Recycling is important, both in terms of cost savings for municipalities and lowering the impact on the environment of the waste we produce. Yet according to a report on “The State of Municipal Solid Waste in Maine” by the Environmental Policy Group in the Environmental Studies Department at Colby College, in 2012 Maine generated over 1.3 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) but only 39.46% of the waste was recycled and composted. In addition, 40% of landfilled waste was compostable. In 1989, the Maine legislature mandated that Maine reach a recycling rate of 50% within 20 years. That target has yet to be reached; clearly, we Mainers need to do better.
Compostable materials are hefty and cost a lot to be buried in a landfill. For those without space or inclination to do their own composting, there is a handy solution. Regular compostable items can be taken directly to the Lincoln County Recycling Plant at 54 Huntoon Hill Road in Wiscasset. Or, in the case of those who use the Nobleboro/Jefferson or Waldoboro Transfer Stations, there are large dedicated barrels in which to dump your food scraps (no meat or dairy); these then go to LCR.
LCR mixes the compostables it collects with manure, leaves and grass clippings, turns it regularly and then screens it all. This produces a rich, clean compost perfect for any garden. This compost is available at the LCR plant for a bargain price of $25 per yard.
I’ll end with a timely note that, for those who use the Nobleboro/Jefferson or Waldoboro Transfer Stations, there will be a Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 10, at Nobleboro Central School. Mark your calendar!