HAMPDEN — The Fiberight waste-processing facility in Hampden accepted its first loads of municipal trash last week, a year after its expected opening and seven days past the latest projection given at the end of March.

Despite that, week one has gone smoothly, officials from Fiberight and the Municipal Review Committee said Wednesday morning. The MRC is a coalition of 115 towns and cities that have contracted to send their municipal garbage to Coastal Resources of Maine, the official name of the Fiberight-owned plant. Oakland, Vassalboro, China, Albion, Palmyra, St. Albans, Unity, Freedom, Thorndike and Troy are among the MRC member towns in central Maine.

Municipal Review Committee Board President Chip Reeves resigned from his position April 24 after 10 years with the organization. Morning Sentinel file photo by David Leaming

“Right now, we’re working with about a dozen communities in the first stages of our ramp-up plan,” said Shelby Wright, Fiberight’s director of community services. The remainder of MRC members will be on-boarded by July 1.

Meanwhile, the MRC has been tested by turnover in key positions. Longtime Executive Director Greg Lounder stepped down March 1, citing a new era of the partnership between Fiberight and the MRC as the reason for his departure. On April 24 — two days after the soft launch of Coastal Resources of Maine — Chip Reeves, president of the MRC’s board of directors, resigned after 10 years with the organization.

“I’ve got so much work at my day job that I felt it was a good time to step away,” Reeves said, adding that his decision was “absolutely not” related to Lounder’s departure or any frustrations working with Fiberight. “A lot of my work with the MRC had (involved) construction and that part of bringing the plant online, and with the plant taking on trash, it was good timing.”

As the director of public works in Bar Harbor, Reeves said he needs to focus on wrapping up a project on Route 3 that has been going on for two years, helping implement a paid parking plan and addressing needs relating to the town’s combined sewer overflow program.


The former vice president of the MRC board, Karen Fussell, has been appointed president. Tony Smith, director of public works in Mount Desert, is the board’s new vice president. Smith said that the board is “receiving and reviewing applications” to fill Lounder’s position, which Eric Johns holds temporarily.

Currently, Coastal Resources of Maine is accepting only residential trash from MRC member towns. While Wright was tight-lipped about which of the communities have been making deliveries in Hampden, Mount Desert is one of them, according to Smith.

“Coastal Resources might call (the Mount Desert transfer station) in the beginning of the week and say, ‘Bring two or three loads,'” said Smith. “They’re using it to tweak the process. I have a hunch they want to have all the tweaking done so everything’s working by (July). The way I describe it, there are a million nuts and bolts, and one of them’s going to be loose.”

The long-anticipated first load of municipal solid waste is delivered April 22 to the Coastal Resources of Maine processing facility in Hampden. Coastal Resources of Maine is the official name for the Fiberight-owned plant, which will service 10 towns in central Maine. Courtesy of Fiberight

The operation still has to pass testing requirements with the Department of Environmental Protection before it can accept garbage from school districts, hospitals, malls and other organizations not sponsored by a municipality for waste management, according to Wright. She said the company has not determined whether it has plans to partner with clients outside of the MRC members in the near future.

“That’s an internal decision that we have yet to make,” she said.

Greg Lounder, executive director of the Municipal Review Committee, resigned March 1 after overseeing the MRC through a tumultuous period. Tony Smith, the MRC board vice president, said the board is reviewing applications to fill Lounder’s position. Kevin Bennett file photo

The $69 million Coastal Resources of Maine plant reduces waste in three main stages. The “dry end” of the process filters out recyclables from unsorted garbage and single-sort recycling loads, sending the rest to a pulper. The “wet end” washes the pulped material, which separates food waste from other materials. An anaerobic digestor then turns food waste into biogas, while the rest of the materials are packaged and sold as cellulose fiber, which can be used as a solid fuel or to make pulp products such as egg cartons.


Wright said that at this point, only the dry end is operational, so no biofuel is being produced yet.

“It takes about six weeks for the system to prime in order to produce the fuel,” she said.

Wright said that the amount of waste that Coastal Resources of Maine has accepted since its April 22 soft launch is “not going to be disclosed at this point,” adding that “we are on pace with our ramp-up plan,” which has been kept private. The CEO of the Maryland-based Fiberight company, Craig Stuart-Paul, previously stated that the goal was to accept 1,650 tons — 20 percent of capacity — within the first month. When the plant is fully operational, MRC member towns expect to deliver a total of roughly 100,000 tons annually, according to preliminary estimates posted on its website.

The first batch of recycling was processed March 26.

“I think it’s great,” Smith said. “I’ve been a fan from the get-go. I think we’re going to see more of these facilities in the country because it’s a material recovery facility as opposed to disposal.”


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