OLD TOWN, Maine — Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Folks hear those words a lot as they try to do their part to combat climate change.
It's also part of the purpose of the newest machine at ND Paper in Old Town.
Inside, the mill uses a specific portion to turn cardboard into dry pulp. That dry pulp is sold to national and international buyers to make new cardboard.
Most of the recycled cardboard is bought by ND Paper. The mill buys it mostly from local grocery stores like Hannaford, Walmart, and other stores. A small but very significant portion comes from community members.
Anyone is encouraged to save their cardboard boxes like shipping, pizza, and cereal boxes, to later drop off at the mill in Old Town for recycling purposes.
ND Paper manager Bruce Hogan said any cardboard that doesn't end up in the landfill is a win.
"We'll go put it through a proprietary process equipment line, and that will kind of make these bails of fiber here that are behind me, and then this product now becomes a usable source of fiber for someone to be able to make some other sustainable package paper product," Hogan said.
The production line that recycles cardboard created 15 new jobs.
"We are probably doing about 15, emptying these dumpsters about 15 times a week," Hogan said, referring to the number of community bins that are being dropped off at the mill.
ND Paper said about 200 metric tons of unbleached dry pulp are created every day.
Brian Boland is the vice president of strategy and communication at ND Paper. He said the mill in Old Town has seen success and is pleased with the operation of the new high-functioning recycled pulping operation.
Hogan said the production line runs 24 hours.
"Then this product now becomes a usable source of fiber for someone to be able to make some other sustainable package paper product," Hogan said.
"Not only does it cut back on the landfill waste, [but] it also created good-paying local jobs," Gary Scott said.
Scott used to work at the Lincoln Mill for eight years. When it closed, he was laid off. Now he is working at this mill in Old Town.
"And I got assigned to this special project," Scott said.
Back in 2018, ND Paper was revitalized and reopened thanks to an investment of millions of dollars to help get it up and running.
A portion of the capital needed to open the mill again came from an impact investment firm out of New York called Enhanced Capital.
"It not only creates in an otherwise distressing area the direct jobs and sort of the psychological benefit of taking shuttered mill back into commerce, but what we also love to see is it has a ripple effect. All the vendors that now are doing business with the mill, the truckers, the loggers, the rail workers," Michael Korengold, CEO for Enhanced Capital, said.