A panel of lawmakers Monday overwhelmingly endorsed a bill that would prohibit companies from depositing waste that originated outside Maine in the state-owned Juniper Ridge landfill.

It is against state law to dump out-of-state waste at the landfill, just outside of Old Town. But the wording in the current law allows companies to deposit “waste residue,” including from trash trucked in from Massachusetts and elsewhere, at the landfill.

The bill, L.D. 1639, would close that loophole by limiting the amount of residue from a recycling or waste-processing facility to just the weight of material generated in Maine by that facility. Much of the trash getting to Juniper Ridge is crushed construction and demolition debris from building sites in and outside Maine that is processed in-state.

Lawmakers on the Environment and Natural Resources Committee voted 11-1 to recommend that the full Legislature pass the bill.

ReSource Waste Services, a recycling facility in Lewiston, produces much of the out-of-state waste sent to Juniper Ridge. The bill also gives that plant, owned by ReEnergy Holdings of Albany, New York, until 2026 to meet the state standard of recycling 50 percent of the waste it processes.

ReSource CEO Greg Leahey said in a statement that the bill could force his company to close the Lewiston plant, which employs 40 mostly temp workers. ReSource was investing $1.5 million to upgrade its equipment and increase its recycling rates under a law it worked on with the Legislature in 2020.


The current bill would walk back that agreement and move the goalposts for the company, Leahey said. ReSource might be forced to close its Lewiston plant, with impacts to the city and small companies that support it, he added.

“We will continue to work with the Legislature, the Department of Environment Protection and the Mills Administration on solid waste management, but to be clear this bill puts us further away from achieving our long-term shared goals, and resolving significant short-term issues,” Leahey said.

When the state bought Juniper Ridge in 2003, the expectation was that it would be reserved for trash generated in Maine, said Sen. Rick Bennett, R-Oxford, during the committee meeting Monday.

Because out-of-state waste is allowed to go to Juniper Ridge, the landfill is filling up one-third faster than had been expected when the state bought it, according to bill supporters. More than 189,000 tons of out-of-state construction waste was dumped at the landfill in 2020, about a fifth of what the landfill received that year, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection testified in 2021.

“We have allowed this loophole to use this limited capacity in order to do exactly what we didn’t want to do, which is allow this waste to come into Maine,” Bennett said. “And not just into Maine, but our state-owned landfill.”

The bill is supported by environmental groups, the Penobscot Nation and other members of the public.

“Rapidly filling landfills require expansions and lead to increased pollution, which disproportionately impacts residents living near the landfill, the Penobscot Nation, and the Penobscot River and Bay,” said Ed Spencer, vice-chair of Don’t Waste ME, an advocacy group against incinerators and landfills, in a news release. “Lawmakers have the power and authority to correct this injustice and put Maine back on a path of justice and common sense.”

Opponents of the bill said it could mean the loss of more than 70 jobs and deprive the state of binder material needed to safely dispose of sludge from wastewater plants. Trucking companies, waste processors and sewage districts lined up against the bill.

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