Kids learn about what happens to trash at transfer station

Mon, 08/09/2021 - 7:00pm

Boothbay Sea and Science Center students learned where all the trash goes Aug. 6 during a field trip to Boothbay Region Refuse Disposal District. Manager Steve Lewis told students, currently 65% of refuse is recycled and 35% goes to a landfill. Those figures will likely change in a few weeks once more refuse is sent to the Hampden biomass facility Delta Thermo Inc. of Pennsylvania bought in June.

“Once the plant is up to speed our recycling number will be up to 90%. Until then, we will be sending whatever isn’t recycled to the landfill (Waste Management Crossroads Facility in Norridgewock),” he said.

During the tour, assistant foreman Rena Smith described transfer station operations. One stop included the open top container which stores non-recyclable items. “This stuff is all junk. It can’t be burned so it’s turned into biofuel and sent to the landfill. This has a lot of items made from hard plastic like vacuum cleaners and chairs,” she said.

But the students found out plenty of other things are recycled such as demolition lumber which is shipped out and turned into press board, a low quality plywood. Brush is turned into wood chips and used as a biofuel. Newspapers are recycled into different paper products like heavy duty cup holders and magazine print. Metals are sent to Searsport where they are transported to Europe, where they are reworked into other metal products, according to Lewis.

Summer is also the busiest time of the year for the transfer station. Lewis estimated in February and March, the station averages about 200 cars per day, but in July and August visits increase to around 600 per day.