It was not so long ago that Maine had almost as many town dumps as towns.  In 1977, 454 unlined "landfills" dotted the landscape, often located on or next to low-lying wetland areas or abutting streams.  As environmental consciousness increased and the emerging science of hydrogeology demonstrated the harmful impacts to groundwater from unlined landfills, towns were encouraged to close their individual dumps in favor of regional landfill solutions.  By 1989, when the Legislature enacted the Solid Waste Management and Recycling Act, only 185 local dumps remained in existence.  Today, there are only seven municipal solid waste landfills in the state.

This legislation revolutionized the management of waste in Maine.  It established the solid waste hierarchy -- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Incinerate, Landfill -- that governs Maine's solid waste policies to this day.  It also banned new commercial landfills, and directed communities to regionalize their programs for transportation and disposal of trash, a vision that Penobscot Energy Recovery Company (PERC) and Municipal Review Committee, Inc. (MRC) are working together to implement successfully into the future.

The Penobscot Energy Recovery Company opened in Orrington the year before passage of the Act. Communities in the Penobscot Valley had long been planning for a new waste disposal mechanism and their foresight in 1991 lead to the creation of the MRC, a regional solid waste coalition of 80 communities.   With a mission to ensure affordable, long-term and environmentally sound disposal of municipal solid waste, the MRC communities worked with PERC during the difficult early years to invest in improvements to the facility and achieve economic stability.  Today, MRC membership numbers over 178 communities, from Blue Hill to Mars Hill, and Baileyville to Waterville (click here for map).  Through a unique arrangement, MRC member municipalities currently own almost 25% of the PERC facility as limited partners—a true public-private partnership!  The net cost to these municipalities for solid waste disposal at PERC, are set at a target amount of $45/ton for the next 10 years – among the lowest and most stable in Maine.