The Trash Blog

The House of Cards

Biddeford has closed it’s incinerator, but nobody agreed to produce less garbage, so that trash hasn’t disappeared; it’s just going to another ‘away.’ The new away for Biddeford’s trash is the Juniper Ridge Landfill in Old Town, Maine – a two and a half hour drive up the road.

The Juniper Ridge Landfill, owned by the State of Maine and operated by NEWSME, LLC (a subsidiary of Casella), had a very nice sign.

The Juniper Ridge Landfill, owned by the State of Maine and operated by NEWSME, LLC (a subsidiary of Casella), had a very nice sign.

Old Town isn’t very big. It is home to the University of Maine, a burrito shop, and some nice camping… except for the folks next to us who thought campfire and apocalyptic inferno were synonymous. It is also home to the Juniper Ridge Landfill.

As Biddeford and Casella moved closer to a deal in which Biddeford could buy the MERC waste-to-energy incinerator, Casella worked to change the permitting of nearby Juniper Ridge Landfill (owned by the State of Maine, operated by Casella) so that it could accept the waste from Biddeford. Not surprisingly, Old Town residents were upset. Old Town does not enjoy the idea of being the State’s dump.

Biddeford, with its incinerator closed, isn’t worried about where the garbage goes. In one article I read, John Bubier, Biddeford’s City Manager, was quoted as saying “As long as we’re able to make our way to Westbrook [the location of a Casella-owned transfer station] and deliver to Westbrook, we’re going to be happy as clams, I don’t see an issues that’s apparent.” In other words, as long as the garbage goes away, it’s not Biddeford’s problem.

The employees at the landfill wouldn't let us go closer to take a picture, but the tarp-covered black mound provided a very dramatic impression of the volume of garbage we produce.

The employees at the landfill wouldn’t let us go closer to take a picture, but the tarp-covered black mound provided a very dramatic impression of the volume of garbage we produce.

Whatever you may believe about the environmental properties of garbage, it is likely that you don’t want someone-else’s garbage landing near you. At best, garbage is simply the stuff we don’t want to deal with any more. At worst, it revolts and disgusts us and we need a good amount of physical distance from it. We put a lot of energy into moving garbage around the country (and the world).

What’s struck me the most over our trash blog journeys is just how complicated trash issues are. You pull on one seemingly tiny little string and a whole knotball of trash issues is suddenly in your lap.

I have seen a lot of people who are trying to respond to waste issues, people who want to deal with one card in a whole house of cards. Inevitably the house falls down and we find ourselves chasing a messy pile of cards. I think the logical step after confusion is apathy – trash issues are often too difficult to deal with. Often with garbage, you try to do something right and you end up with a mess on your hands.

Image Credit: The Falling House of Cards at the top of this post is from The Time Out London Blog, featuring artist Bryan Berg.

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This entry was written by Margaret and published on March 5, 2014 at 12:46 am. It’s filed under Community, Energy, Environmental Justice, Import/Export, Incinerators and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “The House of Cards

  1. Catherine on said:

    So shouldn’t the encouragement be- it’s okay, you’re going to have a mess on your hands, but you.. we must continue with our efforts trusting confidently that our efforts to try something/ do something- to reduce, small they may be, are a valuable contribution from us and for us as a community. Even if they don’t seem to make a dent- our actions do change us and, through us, they may speak to others.

    Ending to sixth paragraph?

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