One million tons of ash become an opportunity

Ecomaine, a nonprofit municipally owned and operated waste disposal entity, is participating in what general manager Kevin Roche calls a win/win/win opportunity for ecomaine municipalities, business, and the environment. In a first-in-the-nation operation, a division of Reserve Management Group (RMG, Ohio) has begun sifting through one million tons of ash to acquire scrap metal. The ash is a result of ecomaine’s waste-to-energy plant, which has been burning trash to produce electricity for 23 years.

Roche explained, “The three-year contract with Reserve Management Group will allow ecomaine to reclaim up to 12,000 cu. yds. of its ashfill/landfill space in South Portland. That’s good news for our 21 owner-communities. And RMG will also pay ecomaine a per-ton fee for reclaimed metal that is extracted; combined with the value of reclaimed space, the total benefit could be worth as much as $500,000.” It’s good news for RMG, too. Tests performed on ecomaine’s ash show that 12 to 13 percent of the content is ferrous metal that can be sold as scrap metal. “As scrap metal, it will be recycled by another company into new uses – and that’s a ‘win’ for the environment.”

Roche said the arrangement with RMG was made after more than two years of study and careful calculations by ecomaine, the City of South Portland, RMG, and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

RMG is now operating on one acre of ecomaine’s land that has been prepared to hold its sifting and screening equipment. This automated process produces four piles of metal that are separated by size and a fifth pile that consists of residue ash.