Birds sit and fly above the trash of the Juniper Ridge Landfill, Wednesday, January 19, 2022. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Senate voted unanimously Thursday to ban out-of-state garbage from being dumped in a state-owned landfill.

The bill aims to close a loophole that allowed trash from Massachusetts and New Hampshire to be processed in Maine, reclassified in Maine waste and then dumped in Maine’s only publicly owned landfill, Juniper Ridge, near Old Town.

The bill’s sponsor, Democratic Sen. Anne Carney, D-Cumberland, said only Maine-generated waste should go into taxpayer-owned landfills.

The Senate vote was 32-0. The House will likely vote next week.

The Juniper Ridge landfill was bought by the state in 2004 and has a sign that says, “Juniper Ridge Landfill only accepts waste generated in Maine.”

But about a third of the waste dumped there comes from out of state because of the loophole, according to the Natural Resources Council of Maine. Juniper Ridge is operated under contract by Casella Waste Systems.

The out-of-state waste is mostly construction debris like drywall, concrete, asphalt and shingles that include toxic chemicals like mercury, arsenic and asbestos.