The shuttered Hampden waste facility that was intended to recycle trash from more than 100 Maine communities has now been purchased by those communities.
The Municipal Review Committee, which represents the waste interests of 115 towns and cities across central, eastern and northern Maine, paid $1.5 million for the facility this week — a small fraction of its actual value — and is working with an investment firm to restart it.
As an owner, Executive Director Michael Carroll said that the MRC can now ensure that the facility won’t be repurposed or stripped for parts, as some other potential buyers might have wanted to do.
“We made the members a promise of what we can do for their waste, and now that we own, we’re reassured that nobody is going to come in and change things so that we can’t keep that commitment that we’ve made to our members,” Carroll said.
The Coastal Resources of Maine plant was designed to repurpose waste in a variety of ways, including re-selling recyclables, producing biogas from organic matter, and making a few other end products, including cellulose pulp for papermaking and plastic fuel briquettes. Its goal was to keep more than half its waste out of the landfill or incinerator.
But a variety of financial and startup challenges forced it to close in 2020, after just six months of operation. Since then, the MRC towns have been sending their trash to either a waste-to-energy incinerator in Orrington or a landfill in Norridgewock.
The MRC has renamed the facility Municipal Waste Solutions and hopes to restart it in the next nine to twelve months. The MRC previously owned the land on which the plant sits, but not the facility itself.
Other groups have made bids to purchase the Hampden facility over the last two years, but the out-of-state investors who originally provided much of the funding for the $90 million plant did not accept those bids. Those bids did not meet either the technical or financial requirements for restarting the facility, according to Carroll.
Now, the MRC is negotiating with a firm called Revere Capital Partners to secure funding for necessary upgrades and operating costs. If the deal goes forward, Revere would become a majority partner in the operation. It would contract out the operation of the plant to a company called CS Solutions.
As reported by the Bangor Daily News, CS Solutions is closely linked with Cate Street Capital, a company which came to Maine to reopen two paper mills in the Katahdin region and start a wood pellet manufacturing facility, but left behind a series of unpaid bills and failed operations.
MRC officials have said that CS Solutions would simply be a contractor to Revere Capital Partners and that Revere’s proposal does not hinge on any tax incentives, loans or other types of risky financial support.
This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.