The head of a regional organization that handles the waste processing needs for 115 communities across eastern, northern and central Maine is resigning just as the group is due to start sending some of its waste to a new, state-of-the-art processing facility in Hampden.
That organization, the Municipal Review Committee, announced Friday that Executive Director Greg Lounder will step down March 1 and pursue other lines of work.
The new facility, which has been developed by the company Fiberight, is expected to start accepting some recyclables from the group’s member communities in March, before beginning to accept some household trash in April and ramping up operations through May and June, according to plans that Fiberight recently shared with the Municipal Review Committee.
The Friday announcement said Lounder was stepping down after 25 years on the job “to explore new career opportunities.”
“Lounder worked tirelessly for many years, and he will be sorely missed by many,” a press release stated. “[B]ut with the plant coming online next month he felt this was a good time to step down and support a management transition plan. Lounder also has offered to share his institutional knowledge in the future should the need arise.”
The board of directors of the Municipal Review Committee will formally consider Lounder’s resignation at its Feb. 27 meeting, where a management transition plan will be announced. The job of executive director will be advertised in the coming weeks.
“Nothing will ever replace the sense of pride and accomplishment I have for the work of the MRC to successfully see this project transition from ‘back of the napkin’ concepts to the first trucks rolling into the advanced recycling and processing facility in a few weeks,” Lounder said of Fiberight’s project. “It’s been a long journey, but I’m confident in the abilities of my counterparts to take it from here and for the MRC to continue its mission.”
Fiberight originally expected the Hampden facility to start accepting waste last April, but the expected opening has been delayed a full year. Officials have attributed the delay to multiple factors, including weather that slowed construction last winter, a legal challenge to the project’s environmental permits and a changing market for recycled goods.
Members of the Municipal Review Committee used to send their waste to the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. facility in Orrington, but decided to leave that arrangement because last year’s end to a power purchase agreement between PERC and Emera Maine would have affected the rates that sending communities would have to pay to dispose of their waste.