LEWISTON — An automated recycling sorting facility near the city landfill opened quietly about a month ago.
But Bob Cappadona, vice president of recycling operations for Casella Solid Waste, said Lewiston’s new single-stream recycling facility won’t be running at top capacity for another three months.
“It’s up and operational but, like anything, we’ll go through up to six months of shakedowns and testing,” Cappadona said. “For a large project like this, we want to make sure all the equipment is operational. We are in that stage now and we’re open about eight hours a day.”
The 15,000-square-foot automated recycling center south of the city’s landfill is designed to process merged recyclable material. Rather than having customers sort their recycling, they’ll dump everything — paper, glass, plastic, cardboard and cans — into a single bin at a transfer station dumpster or collected at the curb.
The collected refuse is run through a series of conveyors and sorted automatically. Glass is broken, cans are pulled away by magnets and plastics are sorted according to type by special cameras and air blowers.
The sorted materials are crushed into cubes and stored until they can be sold on the commodities market.
Cappadona said a full grand opening is expected in about three months.
For now, the facility is sorting recycling collected in about half the state.
If the recycling bin is collected by Pine Tree Waste north of Lewiston, chances are good the content will be sorted at the River Road facility, he said. If it is collected south of Lewiston, it’s still being trucked down to one of Casella’s other Massachusetts facilities — plants in Auburn, Mass., or Charlestown, Mass.
Cappadona said that should change early in 2015.
“Full capacity, for us, would be to process 60,000 tons of recycling per year, but right now, we’re doing about 20,000 to 25,000 tons,” Cappadona said. “And even when we’re fully open, we’ll be processing about 35,000 tons. Anything above that — the 60,000 tons — we’ll just have to go get more work.”