Augusta and all of Maine need a long-term waste management plan, with the goal of eliminating waste generation. Many effective source reduction plans are being developed worldwide, such as Zerowaste New Zealand and the German Green Dot Program.

The proposed waste-to-diesel facility proposed for Augusta does not address the goal of source reduction. It encourages waste production. It would destroy current recycling and recycling infrastructure.

Since 2008, Maine has experienced a 20 percent drop in waste volume because of recycling and a slow economy. With continued recycling, waste volume will decrease. A substantial reduction of waste means less air, water and land pollution, and a healthier environment.

Trash is not just a local problem. To handle waste while working on source reduction, cities and towns must work together to use facilities. Since 2008, four Maine waste-to-energy plants did not have enough waste to burn to fulfill long-term energy contracts. MERC in Biddeford and PERC in Orrington began importing even more waste from out of state; ecomaine in Portland began digging up old landfills; and MMWAC in Auburn started diverting waste from other landfills.

With no waste management goals to guide decision making, the Augusta proposal may look viable. Promises, no track record, a new company and a first plant, however, may leave Augusta with a physical and financial mess to clean up.

Ed Crofton says the new plant “produces very little, or no emissions.” It is unclear how all the toxic waste, plus conversion and purification processes, and proprietary technology will not produce toxic air and solid pollutants.

And what kind of wastes will be burned: tires, new mercury light bulbs?

Maine needs sustainable solutions to reduce waste generation and toxic air pollution.

Sandra Redemske


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