ecomaine -originally named Regional Waste Systems – was founded in 1976 by the municipalities of Cape Elizabeth, Portland, Scarborough and South Portland in response to a new Maine law that called for the closing of privately owned landfills. Two years later the group purchased 240 acres (primarily located in South Portland and Scarborough) for a jointly owned landfill and bought a baler to satisfy their processing needs. By 1985, the regional organization had grown to 21 municipalities.
Guiding principles set forth by ecomaine’s governing communities have been – and continue to be – commitment to efficient waste services for their citizens and protection of the environment.
The waste-to-energy plant was built in 1988 and provided two major benefits: 1) use of municipal waste as fuel to generate and sell electricity for the financial health of the organization, and 2) reduction in the volume of trash by 90 percent to greatly extend the life of the landfill.
Recycling was added in 1990 and single-stream recycling was added in 2006 for both environmental and financial considerations that have succeeded beyond expectation.
As of 2018, ecomaine has grown to include 74 communities under contract for services, eliminated its debt, and earned the International Standards Organization certification for excellence in environmental management for each of its three facilities.