The group that represents more than 100 Maine cities and towns to manage their waste needs to find $20 million to restart its shuttered trash plant in Hampden or it will be forced to liquidate the facility within months.
The nonprofit Municipal Review Committee has long estimated it would need outside funding to jumpstart the Hampden trash plant formerly run by a company called Fiberight. The money would fund staff to operate the plant and cover its costs until the facility becomes profitable, Karen Fussell, the president of the Municipal Review Committee’s board and Brewer’s finance director, told state lawmakers Wednesday.
“The MRC is down to the end of its resources, and if a path to restart funding is not identified by early summer, we will be forced to liquidate the facility,” Fussell told them. “Our time is running parallel perilously short.”
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Without the Hampden facility, there is only one option between Wiscasset in the south to Smyrna in the north for processing communities’ waste that does not involve landfilling. If the Fiberight plant, which had promised to deliver a higher recycling rate than any other trash operation in Maine, does not restart, it would mean the loss of a facility that has cost $100 million in private and public funds altogether so far.
In May 2020, the Hampden facility — called Coastal Resources at the time — closed after it ran out of money to operate. Since then, the facility has sat dormant.
Municipal Review Committee officials appeared before the Legislature’s environment committee and floated the idea of the state throwing its weight behind a loan to help the plant restart.
Fussell told members of the environment committee that the Municipal Review Committee has sought funding from multiple sources, including taking a loan to fund the restart, but it has consistently hit roadblocks.
She suggested that the state could provide a governmental credit pledge that would serve as a way to guarantee payment of any loan issued to the Municipal Review Committee.
Last Augusta, the Municipal Review Committee purchased the facility and tapped Revere Capital Advisors, a New York-based investment firm as the committee’s prospective financial partner. But a deal never materialized between the Municipal Review Committee and Revere, severing their exclusive potential partnership at the end of January.
Since the Hampden facility closed in 2020, the Municipal Review Committee has paid for the upkeep of the facility, investing $13 million, said Michael Carroll, the group’s executive director. The nonprofit’s financial resources are drying up, he said.
“We have spent a tremendous amount of money to keep it mothballed,” Carroll said. “The carrying costs of this facility have drained our funds.”
Without the waste processing facility, more trash is being sent to landfills than ever before. While the facility has been closed — and even when it was operating — a portion of the facility’s waste has had to go somewhere.
Since 2019, the Municipal Review Committee has sent its waste to Crossroads Landfill in Norridgewock, Juniper Ridge Landfill in Old Town and the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co., a trash incinerator in Orrington.