Category Archives: Education and Outreach

Call for Recycling-Themed Art! (Deadline May 22)

ecomaine is pleased to once again offer its “Recycling is a Work of Art” painting contest to residents who work or live in any of our 65 members communities! All contestants will submit designs by no later than 5 p.m. on May 22, speaking to the theme “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle in Maine.” Six winners will be chosen to paint their selected design on a 22-foot by 6-foot by 8-foot public drop-off recycling receptacle (as pictured left) by no later than July 31.

Winners, selected by ecomaine Outreach & Recycling Committee member judges, will received a $500 stipend plus up to $500 in reimbursements for painting supplies. Past contestants have included schools, artists, and other community groups who care to come together to make a public statement to inspire more recycling in their surrounding community.

How to enter the contest:

  1. Read the complete contest rules here.
  2. Download the templates for both the short side and long sides of the recycling container (or call 207-523-3141 if you would like larger 11×17 printouts of the templates mailed to your home).
  3. Email your completed design to Katrina Venhuizen, or drop in the mail to the attention of Katrina Venhuizen – ecomaine, 64 Blueberry Road, Portland, ME  04102.

If you have questions about this contest, contact Katrina Venhuizen at 523-3141 or Lisa Wolff at 523-3108.

ecomaine announces thirteen 2016-17 School Recycling Grant recipients

Contact: Lisa Wolff, Communications Manager   207-523-3018

PORTLAND, Maine January 13, 2017 – ecomaine, based here, is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2016-17 School Recycling Grants. Schools operating within ecomaine’s 58 member communities were invited to submit grant requests for up to $5,000 for waste reduction initiatives. At this time, the ecomaine Recycling Committee has decided to award twelve Maine schools with funds or goods valued at a total of $19,765.35.

“We are very pleased by the creative and ambitious programs this year’s grant recipients have planned to reduce, reuse and recycle more of the waste in their schools,” said Caleb Hemphill, chairman of ecomaine’s Recycling Committee. “We look forward to following the results of these efforts in the months ahead.”

Below is a summary of grant recipients, who were chosen based on the following criteria: (1) project outline and school commitment (2) ease of project replication (3) likelihood of success and program sustainability, and (4) how compelling and worthy the funding is.

The 2017 ecomaine School Recycling grant winners are:

  • Lake Region Middle School, Bridgton, Naples and Casco, is being awarded $900 to build a school grounds composting bin and to cover bussing costs to visit ecomaine’s facilities. Their goal is to develop integrated and exciting curriculum to instill waste-reduction practices.
  • MSAD #51, Cumberland and North Yarmouth, is being awarded $4,560 to fund four locally made recycling, trash and food waste receptacles as well as eight second-hand food waste toters. The creative approach the school took to integrating single-sort recycling and food waste recycling was a collaborative effort.
  • Falmouth Elementary is being awarded $769 for a water bottle filling station. As their recycling and food waste programs are already mature and effective, Falmouth is installing this station as a way to further reduce their impact on the earth by reducing dependence on single-use water bottles.
  • Freeport Middle School is being awarded $700 to increase awareness of the “three Rs”: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. A comprehensive recycling program will be implemented through school-wide education and a field trip to ecomaine’s recycling and waste-to-energy facilities.
  • Sacopee Valley Middle School (serving Baldwin, Cornish, Hiram, Parsonfield and Porter) is being awarded $261.46 for the purchase of gloves to sort recycling from trash and to cover bussing costs for a field trip to ecomaine’s recycling and waste-to-energy facilities. Here, they will make a movie about the recycling and waste-to-energy operations to bring back to their classmates.
  • Howard C. Reiche Community School of Portland is being awarded $576.09 for outdoor composting bin tools, in-class compost collection bins and to cover costs for a field trip to ecomaine. If the third-grade classroom composting pilot goes well, grades K-5 will get on board next year!
  • Catherine Morrill Day Nursery of Portland is being awarded $1,320 for food waste reduction efforts. They will receive monthly pick-up of all kitchen, lunch and snack food waste in efforts to cut down on amount of food in their trash while educating parents of their students along the way.
  • Thornton Academy in Saco is being awarded new sorting bins valued at up to $1,548.80. The school is confident that new, cohesive bins with ecomaine’s educational messages, will ensure students and staff will have a clearer road to increased recycling.
  • South Portland High School is being awarded $820 to purchase TerraCycle boxes to recycle even more materials that are not suitable for the single-sort recycling process. Since South Portland High School already has a robust and successful recycling and composting system in place, TerraCycle is their next step closer toward zero waste.
  • Massabesic High School in Waterboro is being awarded $810 for the purchase of materials to improve the ease and efficiency of recycling throughout the school. A trolley will assist students in collecting recycling from new large recycling bins. Recycling and composting is second nature for students, who have a well-established Zero Waste Club committed to recycling collections.
  • Waterville Alternative School is being awarded $1,000 to purchase an indoor worm composting system and worms, outdoor composting bin materials, food waste collection cans and buckets, a moveable greenhouse and a light system for the greenhouse. The school has enthusiastic involvement from their Green Class. It is their goal to grow food for their students while learning how waste can be a valuable resource.
  • Manchester Elementary School in Windham is being awarded $1,320 toward food waste reduction efforts, as well as new trash and recycling bins (valued up to $1,680). They will receive monthly pickup of all kitchen, lunch and snack food waste in efforts to cut down on the amount of food in their trash. Bins will assist in proper sorting of waste materials by students and staff.
  • Peak’s Island Elementary School is being awarded $3,500 toward their zero-waste goal to install a dishwasher to cut down significantly on the amount of waste generated through disposable trays, plates and utensils.

We are so proud of our communities and schools in their efforts to follow the waste hierarchy by Reducing, Reusing, Recycling and Composting or Digesting food waste to reduce what goes to Waste-to-Energy or Landfills. Be on the lookout for the fiscal year 2018 School Recycling Grants application process later in 2017.

In other award news: ecomaine is still accepting eco-Excellence Award nominations!

Champions of Sustainability in any of ecomaine’s 58 member communities are eligible for this prestigious award and will receive a special prize and an invitation to an awards luncheon at ecomaine’s Portland facility. Nominate your sustainability hero online here by no later than Feb. 3, 2017.

About ecomaine: ecomaine is a community-owned sustainable waste management operator of a single-sort recycling facility, waste-to-energy plant, and food waste recycling transfer point in Portland, serving 58 member communities and handling one-third of Maine’s waste and recyclables.

How to stay on the recycling “Nice” list this holiday season

Happy Holidays from ecomaine! ‘Tis the season for “decking the halls” and potluck parties galore. Here at ecomaine, we receive about a third of Maine’s recyclables, or roughly 41,000 tons annually, which means we see evidence every day of serve ware, packages and decorations that are ripe with opportunity to be recycled right.

social-media-postThat’s why we have created this Naughty and Nice list to remind you of of what can be recycled. 

Eva of the Coast 93.1 morning show, shared our list on Dec. 12. Listen to her radio spot here.

RECYCLING DOs to get you on the Nice list this holiday season:

Aside from all of your standard household mixed paper and assorted rigid containers made of cardboard, plastic, glass, tin or aluminum, there are a number of items that are commonly used at the holidays that you can recycle. Here are the top five:

  1. Wrapping paper that rips: If it rips, it recycles. Put it the rip test and it if passes, place it in your bin.
  2. Holiday cards: even if they have glitter on them, they are recyclable. Don’t let all of that recyclable paper go to waste this season, put them in your recycling bin!
  3. Aluminum foil pans: whether it’s pie plates, fruit cake pans or any other aluminum pan, remember the rule that if the pan is not caked with sticky, thick food residue, then the pans are recyclable. The same goes for aluminum foil! Aluminum is a very nice material for your recycling bin!
  4. Cardboard and gift boxes: with the rise of cybershopping, you might have a bigger inventory of cardboard boxes, nevermind those gift boxes that make such pretty packages under the tree. Break them down flat before placing them in your bin to ensure enough space for the higher volume of recyclables you are likely to incur through the holidays.
  5. Cookie tins: When you receive tins of cookies, consider saving them to contain your own baked gift next year, or donating them to Goodwill or any other salvage shop. But if they are no longer useful, do place them in your recycling bin!
Recycling DON’Ts that will land you on the Naughty list:
  1. Bows and ribbon: there is no way to recycle these, so your best bet is to save them and reuse them each year, or do away with disposable gift wrap altogether with decorative cloth gift bags. Bows and ribbon are naughty for the recycling bin.
  2. Wrapping paper that doesn’t rip: if your wrapping paper doesn’t rip, then it is probably made of plastic vs. paper and therefore cannot be recycled. We’ll talk about the wrapping paper you can recycle when we list the “Nice” to recycle list.
  3. Christmas tree lights: Maybe you’re trimming the tree only to discover that last year’s lights are not longer repairable. In this case, your best bet is to donate them to a local Goodwill store. They can sell broken lights onto the market because of the valuable copper wires usually contained inside. Whatever you do, don’t put them in your recycling bin, as they will end up clogging ecomaine’s sorting equipment.
  4. Foil caked with residue: Aluminum foil is endlessly recyclable – if it is not caked with cheese or other sticky, messy residue. If it is caked with residue, you are best off tossing it in the trash.
  5. Plastic cutlery: If you can avoid it altogether, that is the best strategy, but if you need to use it, consider reusing it again and again. When you can’t use it any longer, you should put this type of plastic in the trash, not your recycling bin.

Learn more about what can or can’t be recycled this holiday or every day with ecomaine’s Single-Sort Recycling Guide, and find your nearest recycling drop-off location here. Can’t find an answer to your question? Post it on our Will it Recycle? form and we’ll send you a personalized response.

Keep up with regular recycling tips and tricks by following ecomaine on Facebook, Instagram and twitter.

ecomaine community teachers get half off Green Schools workshop Dec. 16

In the first collaboration of its kind, ecomaine is partnering with Project Learning Tree (PLT) for a full-day teacher’s workshop on Friday, Dec. 16 at ecomaine’s offices in Portland. The workshop will connect Kindergarten through 8th Grade lessons on waste reduction, recycling and reusing with PLT-aligned STEM, Common Core and NGSS standards and the GreenSchools online curriculum. Included with the registration fee are PLT’s K-8th grade guide, resources, morning snack and tours of ecomaine’s single-sort recycling and waste-to-energy facilities.enrollment-deadline_-monday-dec-12

The workshop will be facilitated by ecomaine’s own Environmental Educator Katrina Venhuizen, Project Learning Tree Maine Coordinator Pat Maloney, and Biddeford K-12 Science Coordinator Ann Putney.

WHO: All teachers are welcome. (Teachers in schools serving ecomaine’s 57 member communities are eligible for the $25 matching scholarship, or half off of the $50 workshop fee.)

WHAT: ecomaine / Project Learning Tree Green Schools teacher workshop, including tours of ecomaine’s Recycling and Waste-to-Energy facilities. With registration, you will take home a nationally recognized PLT K-8 Activity Guide with 96 experiential lessons, access to Green Schools online curriculum, a breakfast snack, and tours of ecomaine.

WHERE: ecomaine Community Room, 64 Blueberry Road, Portland, ME  04102

WHEN: Friday, Dec. 16, 2016 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (registration deadline is Dec. 12).

WHY: Because teaching integrated curriculums on waste reduction, recycling and strategies for re-use are a great way to achieve STEM, Common Core and NGSS curriculum standards.

HOW: For more information or to register, contact Pat Maloney: or 207-626-7990 by Monday, Dec. 12.

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to connect with your peers and be inspired from three seasoned facilitators with deep knowledge of recycling, waste management and sustainability education!

Check Out Our New Video: Learn What Goes In The Bin!

With ecomaine’s Single-Sort Recycling, it’s easy to recycle all your glass, metal, paper, cardboard, and plastics #1-7: it all goes In The Bin!

But there are some things that either can’t be recycled or need special attention. That’s why we’re launching a new campaign to help people learn more about what goes in the bin.

So check out our new video, and learn more about what goes In The Bin at

ecomaine bins

School Cafeteria Recycling & Composting Training Workshop
Workshop Information

Location: East End Community School, 195 North Street, Portland, ME
Dates: Saturday, May 9, 2015 and Saturday, May 16, 2015
Cost: No charge to participants
Time: 8:30 am – 1:00 pm

Workshop Schedule & Session Topics

8:30 am – 8:45 am    Introduction: Case Studies
8:45 am – 9:15 am    Session 1: Why Recycle? Why Compost?
9:15 am – 10:00 am
Session 2: Guide to Operations –
How to Launch
10:00 am – 10:15 am    Break
10:15 am – 11:00 am
Session 3: Guide to Operations –
How to Maintain and Track Progress
11:00 am – 11:45 am
Session 4: Guide to Operations –
Environmental and Economic Benefits
11:45 am – 1:00 pm
Luncheon: Case Studies and
Sorting Practice

“Saving the environment, one cafeteria at a time.”

What We’ll Be Talking About: Topics covered will include pre-launch planning, the regulatory context, equipment and set-up, start-up challenges, and how to make this “change of habit” a normal part of the school day. During this half-day workshop, we’ll discuss:

The day-to-day tasks that help the program run smoothly
A quick review of the policies and regulations around recycling and composting
How to train and motivate your community
The goals and benefits, including the potential for cost savings
How to solve the common problems that can slow down a start-up
The importance of collecting data

Lessons learned from other cafeteria recycling and composting programs show that the most successful programs are managed by students with staff support. We’ll look at how Service Learning and hands-on experience are key components of organizing the school community to support this shift to a more sustainable practice in the cafeteria.

Who Should Attend: K-12 teachers, Food Service and Custodial Staff, Administration, Green Team advisers, and Facilities Directors.

Why Attend: These two 1/2-day Workshops (content of both Workshops is identical) will provide the basic nuts-and-bolts operating information on how your school can launch a recycling and composting program in your cafeteria and dramatically reduce the amount of trash going to the dumpster every day.  The Workshop content is appropriate for schools who want to begin a program and schools who have already launched and want to review the basics to make improvements. Cafeteria waste reduction programs offer the potential for cost savings for your school based on less trash to haul and Service Learning opportunities for students. The Training also offers .5 CEUs for participating staff. Our Center is offering training to several Maine school districts based on a pilot program at the Portland Public Schools. These workshops are FREE and funded by a US EPA grant. ​
Registration: Register through this link to our web site:  Click on the W​orkshop date that best fits your schedule and fill out the Registration form.

FMI Contact:
Martha Sheils, Workshop Coordinator

How to Reduce Food Waste in Schools …

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 12.59.48 PMEvery year, thousands of people visit ecomaine to tour our facilities and learn more about what happens to their trash and recycling after it’s picked up from the end of the driveway or dropped off at the transfer station.

A lot of them are school kids, learning about the environment, science, math or other subjects.

Our Environmental Educator, Leo Maheu, also visits dozens of schools every year to do in-class projects

Recently, a group of kids from the Lafayette School in Sanford, Maine, got in touch with us to learn more about how they could reduce the amount of waste generated by their cafeteria, and they posted a video they made about what they learned and, more importantly, how they will use that knowledge.

It’s short, it’s well-produced, and it’s definitely worth a look.

Hey, Artists! You Can Still Enter Our Recycling Is A Work Of Art Contest!

This winning design came from, and was executed by, the kids at the One Tree Learning Center in South Portland, Maine.
This winning design came from, and was executed by, the kids at the One Tree Learning Center in South Portland, Maine.

By popular demand, we’ve extended the deadline for our annual ecomaine, “Recycling Is A Work Of Art,” contest – but only until Friday, April 24.

After that, if you still haven’t gotten your material to us, you’re out of luck.

So, if you’re an artist, or a student in an art class at any level, then go ahead and show us what you’d do with 22 feet of cold, hard steel and $500 worth of art supplies. This is your chance to see your work of art come to life – and our roll-off recycling containers get a lot of exposure.

Click on the link here to download the forms, and get them back to us by 5 p.m., Friday, April 24, and you could be seeing your art rolling down the highways and byways of southern Maine.

Hey, Augusta! Get A Free Recycling Bin From ecomaine!

With Single-Sort Recycling, you don't have to worry about sorting paper, plastic, metal and glass anymore! One bin unites them all!
With Single-Sort Recycling, you don’t have to worry about sorting paper, plastic, metal and glass anymore! One bin unites them all!

With the City of Augusta now officially on board with a new single-sort recycling program, we’re working with the community to get the word out about how it works.

“We think the people of Augusta will love single-sort recycling,” ecomaine Business Development Director Lissa Bittermann said. “With single-sort, people in Augusta will be able to recycle a much greater variety of materials, much more easily. With single-sort recycling, you don’t have to separate plastic from metal from paper from glass with a separate bin for each. It all just goes right into one bin, and we do the sorting at ecomaine.”

Currently, Augusta offers drop-off recycling for a limited roster of materials. With the new program, the city will offer single-sort recycling at Hatch Hill, the John Charest Public Works Facility on North Street and City Center, and dramatically increase the menu of materials that can be recycled. The City Center location will become available in the Spring when the snow melts.

So, where do all your single-sort materials end up? Here at ecomaine, on the tipping floor of our Single-Sort Recycling Facility, pictured above.
So, where do all your recyclables end up? Here at ecomaine, on the tipping floor of our Single-Sort Recycling Facility, pictured above.

With Augusta’s single-sort recycling program kicking off on Friday, March 6, we’ve put together a full slate of educational materials and outreach events designed to let people know how they can take full advantage of the new service. The outreach effort will include a kick-off event, community outreach booths, presentations, posters and other educational materials, as well as a significant social media component.

The outreach events include:

  • Presentation and Q&A sessions at the Augusta City Center on Tuesday, March 3, 2015, at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.
  • A kick-off event at Augusta Public Works on Friday, March 6, 2015 from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • A presentation and Q&A session at the Lithgow Library on March 14, 2015; 9 a.m. – 11:30 p.m.
  • Presentations and Q&A sessions at Augusta City Center on March 17, 2015, at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.
  • An information table at Augusta Public Works on March 20, 2015, from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • An information table at Augusta Public Works on March 27, 2015 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Come to one of the events listed to the right, and you can get your hands on a free recycling bin, similar to the one this young man is holding.
Come to one of the events listed above and you can get your hands on a free recycling bin, similar to the one this young man is holding.

At each event, we’ll have staff on hand to explain how the program works, provide take-home informational materials and answer any questions you might have. In addition, the presentations will include a detailed explanation of how ecomaine’s single-sort recycling works and a virtual tour of ecomaine’s sorting facility in Portland.

And as a special bonus, the first 25 people at each event will receive free ecomaine recycling bins.