Maine lawmakers endorse bill to end loophole allowing out-of-state waste

Adobe © rob245

Maine lawmakers have continued to push forward to close a loophole that allows construction and demolition (C&D) waste from out of state to end up at the state-owned landfill in Old Town.

As reported by broadcaster Maine Public, the state legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee voted 11-1 on Feb. 7 to recommend a proposal that would end those exemptions. The bill will be considered by the full state legislature.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Anne Carney, tells Maine Public the legislation is meant to restrict a business called  ReSource Waste Services, Lewiston, Maine, that has imported hundreds of thousands of tons of construction debris from other states to Maine over the last decade.

ReSource Waste Services recovers recyclables and sends the remaining material to the landfill. According to other published reports, the company has invested $1.5 million to improve its recycling rate from 60 percent to 72 percent.

“Ninety percent of the waste that comes into the processing facility in Lewiston and then goes to Juniper Ridge … originates from out of state,” Carney says in the Maine Public article, adding that most of the material comes from Massachusetts.

Environmental groups and neighbors of the landfill say they support the proposal, having expressed concern that the out-of-state waste is contributing to the rate at which Juniper Ridge is being filled and introducing potential sources of environmental contamination.

However, according to Maine Public, the legislation (LD 1639) is opposed by the company contracted to run Juniper Ridge, Casella Waste Systems of Vermont, and ReSource Waste Services, which says it could have to close if the proposal is approved.

The legislature last attempted to limit C&D waste imports from heading to the landfill two years ago, according to Maine Public. However, ReSource Waste Services was exempted after pledging to upgrade its recycling infrastructure. As part of that exemption, state regulators plan to review the arrangement in 2024.

Rep. Jeffery Hanley of Pittston, Maine, was the only lawmaker to vote against the proposal. Maine Public says he expressed concerns that the state legislature is now “moving the goalposts” for ReSource Waste Services after issuing the exemption and that 40 jobs could be lost if the bill is passed and the company is forced to cease operations as a result.