Category Archives: Recycling

Join ecomaine and the City of Rockland to kick off single-sort recycling!

On Saturday, June 8, ecomaine and the City of Rockland will celebrate the kick-off of Rockland’s new single-sort recycling program at the Rockland Transfer Station (400 Limerock Street).

The first 300 guests will receive a 22-gallon blue recycling bin, and ecomaine will also hand out pencils made of recycled newspapers. City staff and ecomaine recycling experts will be on hand to help give information and advice on how to recycle properly in this exciting new system.

We’re excited to launch a new chapter in recycling in Rockland, particularly as the news is dominated by reports of all the challenges faced by recyclers. We hope you’ll join us! For more information, email, call 207-523-1738, or click here.

Battery likely cause of ecomaine Recycling Center fire

Contact: Lisa Wolff, Communications Manager
Desk: 207-523-3108     Cell: 207-653-3881


ecomaine provides tips for how to properly dispose of batteries for the holidays

PORTLAND, Maine – Dec. 20, 2017 – ecomaine Recycling Center employees’ swift action to extinguish a fire averted what could have been total destruction of ecomaine’s single-sort recycling facility earlier this month. The cause of the fire is suspected to have been a Lithium Ion battery that should never have made its way into the facility in the first place.

See how fast the fire ignited in this 90-second video:

“Lithium Ion batteries, unfortunately, have become a regular source of dangerous fires in both our Recycling Center and Waste-to-Energy plant, posing real risks to the safety of our employees and to our equipment and buildings,” said Kevin Roche, Chief Executive Officer of ecomaine, the nonprofit waste company that processes single-sort recycling and municipal solid waste for a third of Maine’s residents. “We are asking all residents of Maine to use extra caution when disposing of Lithium Ion batteries.”

Lithium Ion batteries are commonly found in rechargeable batteries used in laptops, cell phones, assorted mobile devices, cameras, power tools and an ever-growing list of electronic gadgets. The list of products containing these batteries is changing all the time, which makes it more difficult to determine the fire threat of a range of electronic devices.

“Lithium Ion batteries used to be a specialty battery, but that is not the case any more,” said Carole Cifrino of Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection, who urges consumers to consult with Call2Recycle before disposing of batteries or anything containing a battery.

As handler of a third of Maine’s trash and recyclables, ecomaine is urging consumers to take extra-special precautions when disposing of batteries this holiday season. Here are five steps consumers can take to prevent fires and dispose responsibly of batteries:

  1. Never dispose of electronic waste or batteries in your single-sort recycling bin or cart! Don’t be fooled by the recycling symbols that sometimes appear on rechargeable batteries – these are intended to promote programs such as Call2Recycle, not municipal single-sort recycling programs.
  2. If your device still works, donate it to a Goodwill store to be responsibly handled by Goodwill’s GoodTech program or to be recycled if it can’t be refurbished.
  3. Before disposing of any battery-containing device, consult with to find the nearest rechargeable battery collection point. If your town’s transfer station does not have a battery recycling receptacle, tell them about the free municipal rechargeable battery collection boxes available from Call2Recycle.
  4. When deciding if it is safe to place a device or battery in your garbage, be sure to read the battery’s label closely. If it contains Lithium, it poses a fire threat and should not be placed in any curbside trash bins destined for compactor trucks. Single-use alkaline batteries, however, can be handled through ecomaine’s waste-to-energy facility where any ferrous metals are also collected with the post-burn metal for recycling.
  5. Download ecomaine’s free RECYCLOPEDIA app for easy access to answers to your recycling and waste-management questions on more than 700 common household items, including batteries.

About ecomaine:

ecomaine is a quasi-governmental 501(c)3 organization serving 73 member communities with single-sort recycling, waste-to-energy, and food waste diversion programs. Learn more at




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.

OceanView at Falmouth, Wayside Food Programs, Stuart Axelrod Take Top Honors at 2017 eco-Excellence Awards

CONTACT:      Lisa Wolff, Communications Manager
(207) 523-3108 or

For Immediate Release:

Awards honor Individuals, Nonprofit Organizations and Businesses that demonstrated commitment to sustainability and community in 2016

PORTLAND, MAINE – (March 16, 2017) OceanView at Falmouth, Wayside Food Programs, and Scarborough resident Stuart Axelrod each captured top honors in the Business Leadership, Community Leaders, and Individual categories, respectively, at the 2017 ecomaine eco-Excellence Awards ceremony on March 14.

“Behind every recycling statistic is a person who makes a difference,” said Kevin Roche, chief executive officer of ecomaine, during a special awards brunch in ecomaine’s community room here March 14. “Through the ecomaine eco-Excellence Awards, we celebrate each of our winners for leading their communities, businesses and their families to make more sustainable choices about both consumption and waste generation.”

The top winners were selected among 17 award recipients in total, from 10 ecomaine member communities.

Chris Wasileski, Development Manager of OceanView at Falmouth, was awarded an Overall Award for Business Leader during ecomaine's 2017 Eco-Excellence Awards on March 14. From l-r: Troy Moon, Chris Wasileski, Caleb Hemphill, Nathan Poore, Kimberly Darling and Kevin Roche. Photo by Brian Fitzgerald.
Chris Wasileski, Development Manager of OceanView at Falmouth, was awarded top honors in the Business Leadership category during ecomaine’s 2017 Eco-Excellence Awards on March 14. From l-r: Troy Moon, Chris Wasileski, Caleb Hemphill, Nathan Poore, Kimberly Darling and Kevin Roche.
Photo by Brian Fitzgerald.

OceanView at Falmouth – Falmouth

OceanView at Falmouth, the top winner in the Business Leadership Category, is a thriving and growing retirement community, providing a continuum of care with a thoughtful eye toward sustainability. The list of OceanView’s many accomplishments include: realization of a net zero school; diversion of 30,000 pounds of food scraps; dozens of kilowatt hours of grid-tied solar electric; a 360-tube solar hot water collector; 18,000 gallons of displaced propane; elimination of more than 223,000 lbs. of CO2 emissions; and over $1 million invested in renewable energy.

Rooftop solar arrays are being installed on new residences, which each save 4,000 to 5,000 lbs of CO2 per year. The community also offers a robust composting and recycling program. Components of the program include recycled fryer oil collected by Maine Standard and used for biodiesel and soaps; locally sourcing produce and seafood; sourcing all disposable products from recycled or compostable material; and composting food waste. The community’s Blueberry Commons, Legacy Memory Care, Lunt School, and Schoolhouse Cottages projects recycled 95% of all waste and surplus materials. Solid core wood doors, vinyl windows, cabinetry, appliances, and laminate countertops from older buildings are continuously donated to Habitat for Humanity.

“The Business Leadership category recognizes businesses that don’t operate under a mission focused on environmental sustainability or conversation, but who make it their job to integrate it into everything they do. OceanView has done a notable job of demonstrating that both large scale and small-scale sustainability programs are achievable and replicable,” said Caleb Hemphill, chair of ecomaine’s Outreach & Recycling Committee. “We have a growing need for senior housing solutions and OceanView is an exemplary, very relevant model to other developers across the state.”

Don Morrison, Operations Manager of Wayside Food Programs was awarded top honors in the Community Leaders category during ecomaine's 2017 Eco-Excellence Awards on March 14. From l-r: Troy Moon, Don Morrison, Caleb Hemphill and Kevin Roche. Photo by Brian Fitzgerald.
Don Morrison, Operations Manager of Wayside Food Programs was awarded top honors in the Community Leaders category during ecomaine’s 2017 Eco-Excellence Awards on March 14. From l-r: Troy Moon, Don Morrison, Caleb Hemphill and Kevin Roche.
Photo by Brian Fitzgerald.

Wayside Food Programs – Portland

Wayside Food Programs has been rescuing food from grocery stores, wholesalers, farms, shipping companies, and other food establishments to feed people in need in the Greater Portland area for 30 years.

Wayside estimates that in 2015 they re-distributed over a million pounds of food to more than 40 partner agencies to feed households throughout Cumberland County. Wayside’s programs include the Community Meals program, which offers 14 community meals a week for free in Portland and Westbrook. They also operate five Mobile Food Pantries, offering access to non-perishable items as well as fresh produce, meat, and breads when available, and healthy afterschool and summer program snacks to students in the Greater Portland area (Kid’s Healthy Snacks Program). After all of this, they recycle leftover food waste through Agri-Cycle Energy’s hauling service.

“According to the latest USDA statistics, 31 percent, or 133 billion pounds of the available food supply at the retail and consumer level in 2010 when uneaten. Here in Maine, we have a goal to reach a 50 percent recycling rate by 2021, so every effort to find innovative ways to reduce, reuse and recycle that food waste brings us one step closer to this goal,” said Troy Moon, chair of ecomaine’s Board of Directors. “We are pleased to present Wayside Food Programs with this top eco-Excellence Award in the Community Leader category, for the scope of impact it is having on sustainable waste management, and for the meaningful improvements this waste reduction is bringing to so many people in Southern Maine.”

Stuart Axelrod, center, was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award during ecomaine's 2017 Eco-Excellence Awards on March 14. From l-r: Mike Shaw, Troy Moon, Laura Axelrod, Stu Axelrod, Debbie Axelrod, Kerry Strout, Caleb Hemphill, William Donovan and Kevin Roche. Photos by Brian Fitzgerald.
Stuart Axelrod, center, was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award during ecomaine’s 2017 Eco-Excellence Awards on March 14. From l-r: Mike Shaw, Troy Moon, Laura Axelrod, Stu Axelrod, Debbie Axelrod, Kerry Strout, Caleb Hemphill, William Donovan and Kevin Roche.
Photos by Brian Fitzgerald.

Stuart Axelrod – Scarborough

Stuart Axelrod (“Stu”) is entering retirement from his position of Division General Manager for Pine Tree Waste, and is also a leader in his Scarborough community and throughout Southern Maine. Innovative concepts in which he has played an instrumental role have included automated curbside collection of waste and recyclables, and the soon-to-be-launched food waste recycling pilot in Scarborough.

“For devoting a long career to sustainable waste management strategies, and in recognition of his outstanding leadership and tireless efforts therein, we are proud to present Stu with this special ecomaine Lifetime Achievement Award,” said Moon. “You have been a tremendous resource to all of us in the sustainable waste management industry.”

The additional esteemed 2017 eco-Excellence Award winners are:

  • Alison McKellar, founder of Waste Watchers & community activist, Camden
  • Laura Summa, staff member at Chebeague Island School & community activist, Chebeague Island
  • Cathy Nichols, Recycling and Energy Advisory Committee, Falmouth
  • Celeste Bard & Pamela Moulton, Portland Greenfest’s Upcycled Art, Portland
  • Wynne Wirth, volunteer at Reiche Community School, Portland
  • B. Kavaliauskas and the South Portland High School Beekeepers Club, South Portland
  • Carrie Gordon, Maine Medical Center/ Maine Medical Partners, Portland
  • Patti Wininger, Community H.E.L.P, Bridgton
  • Kari Sawyer and students, Sacopee Valley Middle School, Hiram
  • Gabriel Nichols, Gabe’s Grab & Go, Portland
  • Anna Sommo, Jake Hanin and Chris Malmberg, Maine Tool Library, Portland
  • Jennifer Ocean and students, Manchester Elementary School, Windham
  • Ken Kunin, Superintendent of South Portland Schools, South Portland
  • Laura Turner, Wild Birds Unlimited, Scarborough (and Cornish resident)

Read more about these winners at the bottom of this post.

About ecomaine and the eco-Excellence Awards

Ecomaine, the nonprofit, recycling and waste-to-energy operation that serves a third of the state’s population, is owned by 20 communities and is located in Portland, Maine. The eco-Excellence Awards is an annual program organized by ecomaine to recognize businesses, schools or individuals in any of ecomaine’s 65 member communities. Winners are selected based on the effectiveness, increased awareness, community impact, and ease of replication of their sustainability programs or initiatives.

About our 14 additional winners:

Alison McKellar
(Due to weather, Alison was unable to make the awards ceremony, so ecomaine will be presenting her award in Camden in the near future.)
Among her many sustainability and community-building accomplishments, Alison established the "Waste Watchers" community group, which has since become a formal advisory group to the Midcoast Solid Waste Board of Directors. She has also reclaimed six overseas containers worth of of materials that would otherwise have been waste, and successfully delivered these materials to Syrian refugee camps, providing comfort and desperately needed supplies. This has included sheet plastic, medical aids such as walkers, crutches, canes and even prosthetic devices and braces, as well as hundreds, perhaps thousands of buckets useful to haul water.
Cathy Nichols
Cathy Nichols
Pictured l-r: Caleb Hemphill, Cathy Nichols, Kimberly Darling, Nathan Poore, Kevin Roche
Photo by Brian Fitzgerald.
Cathy's wealth of knowledge and experience has made her a truly cherished addition to Falmouth's Recycling and Energy Advisory Committee, which she joined in 2014. When the Town began looking at shopping bag ordinances and started thinking about implementing a policy in Falmouth much like Portland’s, Cathy was quick and eager to help. She has put in countless hours researching ordinances around the country and the world, has developed an immense amount of knowledge on manufacturing of paper versus plastic, and is deeply passionate about recycling thin-film and making sure folks know exactly what can be recycled and the appropriate place in which to do so.
Pamela Moulton and Celeste Bard

Pictured l-r: Caleb Hemphill, Pamela Moulton, Celeste Bard, Kevin Roche
Photo by Brian Fitzgerald.
This is the second year in a row that Celeste and Pam have selflessly collaborated on pulling together what has become a highlight of Portland GreenFest in Monument Square: The UpCycled Art program. o The UpCycled Art event has become a fantastic, repeatable way to raise awareness of the value of items that might ordinarily be discarded as waste by stores, companies, manufacturers, etc. It is a highly effective method for bringing the concepts of up-cycling, re-purposing and reusing materials into the public consciousness, among children and adults alike, who can make their own masterpieces to take home for free.
Wynne Wirth

Pictured l-r: Caleb Hemphill, Wynne Wirth, Kevin Roche
Photo by Brian Fitzgerald.
Wynne is a volunteer at Reiche Community School in Portland who has - over the last three years - dedicated herself to making sustainability education really come alive for hundreds of students. Wynne is a volunteer who has dedicated herself to just that. As the volunteer leader of the PTO's Green Team, each season, you can find her working with teaching staff and running special blocks of programming to bring real, hands-on, meaningful experiences to kids. She has carted her family's apple presses into the school in the fall, juiced frozen blueberries in the winter, and brought students outside to scout for maple trees to tap for sap in the cold, early spring. In everything that Wynne does with Reiche's kids, she tries to help them see their role in the stewardship of the earth, how their choices affect the world around them - from composting, to eating simple locally-grown foods, to limiting packaging, and recycling and reusing materials wherever possible.
Laura Summa
(Due to weather, Laura Summa was unable to make the awards ceremony, so ecomaine will be presenting her award on Chebeague Island in the near future.)
Through her efforts, Chebeague Island transitioned to working with ecomaine in the spring of 2016 and has already realized an $8,000 savings, in addition to keeping the island on track with its solid recycling program, according to her nominator Marjorie Stratton, town manager of Chebeague Island. In addition to the formal knowledge she gained about the solid waste world, Laura had already implemented in the school where she works on the island all of the key principles and strategies to becoming a “zero waste” institution
JB Kavauliaskas and the South Portland High School Beekeepers
South Portland Beekeepers Club
Pictured l-r: Julie Rosenbach, Maxine Beecher, Julie Lengyal, J.B. Kavauliaskas, Emma Campbell, Troy Moon, Kevin Roche
Photo by Brian Fitzgerald.
In the fall of 2016, the South Portland High School Beekeepers Club began their outreach by helping the Honey Exchange Staff as they went into five elementary schools to teach about bees and their importance to the ecosystem. The club is 50 members strong, and with fundraising and grant applications they have four students who are taking Beekeeping 101 with a Master Beekeeper, as they ready for starting their own hives, being built by the Furniture making class at the high school. Already these high school students are building a bee knowledge base, beginning with elementary students and their plan is to offer their knowledge to other schools. This young group has rapidly grown awareness, education and understanding of the honeybee and its impact on the ecosystem and humans.
Dr. Carrie Gordon - Maine Medical Center, Maine Medical Partners
(Due to weather, Dr. Gordon was unable to make the awards ceremony, so ecomaine will be presenting her award on-site in her medical office in the near future.)
Dr. Carrie Gordon is a pediatric nephrologist at Maine Medical Partners, who funded the grassroots, volunteer Sustainability Committee at Maine Medical Center in 2014, together with Dr. Carol Hubbard. On her own initiative and with great investment of her volunteer time (working together with facilities manager Bob Cloutier and with waste management services and local composting business We Compost It) she set up an extensive recycling and composting system for the medical practices at 887 Congress Street. She has designed her recycling and composting project as a model for the rest of the hospital system and has continued to advocate for its broader implementation, for which many staff are eager. This has great potential impact for the largest employer in Portland.
Patti Wininger - Community H.E.L.P.
Patti Wininger
Pictured l-r: Troy Moon, Patti Wininger, Maureen McDevitt, Kevin Roche
Photo by Brian Fitzgerald.
Patti started Community H.E.L.P. (HELP stands for Helping Enrich Lives Program) to take clothing and household goods that others no longer need and give it to those in need. The shop is located on Nully Street in downtown Bridgton. In a rural community such as Bridgton, where there are no places such as Goodwill and Salvation Army, Patti is filling that need while taking an enormous amount of goods out of the waste stream. According to a December article in The Bridgton News, 400 families have signed up for the Community H.E.L.P. program. This program is available to residents below a certain income level and qualifies them for one free bag of clothes and a second bag for only $3.
Kari Sawyer & her 8th Grade Class - Sacopee Valley Middle School
(Due to weather, Kari and her students were unable to make the awards ceremony, so ecomaine will be presenting their award at the school in the near future.)
At the beginning of this school year, Sacopee Valley Middle School didn't have any recycling program to speak of. After seeing the bins fill to overflowing, Kari Sawyer asked her 8th grade math class if they would be willing to help her. They have really stepped up in tremendous ways, voluntarily going from room to room throughout the school to collect the recycling from each classroom’s bin. Teachers have been very appreciative of their efforts to keep the bins cleaned out. When given the choice of any problem to solve as a class project, the students voluntarily chose the problem that the school does not recycle the milk cartons in its cafeteria as theirs to solve. The students did some research and found out on average how many milk cartons have been thrown away each week and it amounted to 52 pounds of milk cartons per week! At the time of this nomination, the students were creating a presentation for their principal, assistant principal, maintenance director, and head custodian to prove why it's a good idea to recycle milk cartons.
Gabriel Nichols - Gabe's Grab & Go
Gabriel Nichols
Pictured l-r: Troy Moon, Gabriel Nichols, Anne Bilodeau, Kevin Roche
Photo by Brian Fitzgerald.
In the words of his nominator and mother Maria Bellesteros, Gabe is a 23-year-old young man with Autism who started recycling bottles at the age of 12. He found a way as the years went on to start a business called Gabe's Grab & Go. He has built this company with the support of 35 companies, who donate their bottles to his company, and has collected more than 2 million bottles and cans. In turn, Gabe gives 10% of his proceeds to Autism. At the time of nomination, he had donated more than $275 to the Maine Autism Alliance and another $191 to the Autism Society of Maine. Gabe is one of only five, according to Maria, who is autistic and drives, which has been a big support to his business.
Anna Sommo & Jake Hanin - Maine Tool Library
PortlandToolLibrary Pictured l-r: Troy Moon, Anna Sommo, Jake Hanin, Anne Bilodeau, Kevin Roche
Photo by Brian Fitzgerald.
The volunteers who run the Maine Tool Library are doing a tremendous service to the community and demonstrating what an authentic part of the sharing economy looks like. Their innovative approach to tapping the sharing economy for reducing, reusing and repairing resources – namely, tools – has enabled broad community benefit. Their volunteer efforts to enable people to borrow a tool they may only need to use once is providing a clear mechanism for reducing consumption, avoiding waste, promoting equity through equal access to these tools, promoting a repair culture, and building community.
Jen Ocean & her 5th grade class - Manchester Elementary, Windham
(Due to weather, Jenand her students were unable to make the awards ceremony, so ecomaine will be presenting their award at the school in the near future.)
Jen Ocean has been the driving force behind Manchester Elementary's new food waste recycling program as well as consistent and thorough recycling in the cafeteria during breakfast and lunch periods.
Jen applied for an ecomaine School Recycling Grant this year to receive food waste hauling, as well as new bins for single sort recycling, and she and her 5th grade class have been overseeing the successful implementation of both programs. The students in Jen's class take turns in monitoring and assisting other students’ waste disposal habits and quite happily miss recess now and then for their shift. The project brings them joy and it's because of Jen that they are as enthusiastic and invested in their roles, as she is a stellar role model. Their excitement for the progress their school is taking is infectious. Jen is also working with the district, superintendent and nutritionist to cut down on food waste before it happens as well. It is Jen's goal to implement a share table of sorts, though students have already started sharing among themselves at their tables before the meal is over, therefore cutting down food waste. Jen Ocean and her 5th grade class are a very positive influence on their school and their community, in general.
Ken Kunin
(Due to weather and scheduling conflicts, Ken was unable to make the awards ceremony, so ecomaine will be presenting his award in South Portland in the near future.)
In the words of Ken's nominator Tania Ferrante, "It wasn't until Ken Kunin became the Superintendent of South Portland that the sustainability efforts in the schools were finally realized and acknowledged." When Ken became Superintendent it was clear that reducing waste and carbon emissions was a priority for him. He has supported the district’s sustainability team since it's inception with inspiring words and actively ensuring that food waste recycling became part of the district's budget. As a result, money is built into every school’s budget. He has shared data results with the entire school district thereby validating the important work of each individual school and student. For example, publicly praising the entire district for composting and diverting 26,668 pounds of food waste from the city’s landfill last year. “Our society needs courageous and dedicated leaders in all facets of society including our local schools, city governments and local businesses. Ken Kunin exemplifies this type of leader,” said Tania.
Laura Turner - Wild Birds Unlimited
Pictured l-r: Troy Moon, Mike Shaw, Laura Turner, Lissa Bittermann, Bill Donovan, Kerry Strout, Kevin Roche
Photo by Brian Fitzgerald.
Laura Turner has always been a proponent of recycling, and she takes her efforts to reduce/reuse, and recycle wherever possible very seriously, both at home in Cornish and at Wild Birds Unlimited. In Cornish, she is a big proponent of the convenience of single-sort recycling. At Wild Birds Unlimited, she is constantly looking for ways to address reducing, recycling and re-using. She likes to take a bigger-picture, circular economy view of every purchase: where items are made, what they are made of, how they are packaged, and how they ultimately arrive to us. She also works to reduce environmental impact by ordering local, ordering products made from recycled materials, requesting items be left out of plastic bags and packaging, and if that is not possible, ask if they can arrive in recyclable containers. Her store also carries many, many products that have lifetime warranties that can be repaired as opposed to having to be completely replaced. When customers do request bags for their purchases, their items are put in recyclable/compostable plastic bags or paper bags that she hopes are reused – an opinion she freely expresses to her customers. Laura always asks the right questions and unapologetically does the right thing when it comes to our environment and the animals around us.

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.

Hey, You Gonna Recycle That?

Here at ecomaine, we take recycling very seriously.

f13e40ef-9fd5-4161-8487-129ca1488f1eBut it’s worth noting that recycling – while tremendously important – is not the first rung on the Waste Hierarchy; Reduce and Reuse take priority.

So when a major corporation takes that to heart and does something that puts some focus on the preferred alternatives, we take notice. That’s exactly what IKEA has done with its new pillow.

On Sept. 12, IKEA is asking its customers who live in Belgium to bring in their old catalogs so they can be reused as stuffing in a new pillow — the KÜSS — that will be available at IKEA later in the year.

The Waste Hierarchy. Learn it. Live it. Love it.
The Waste Hierarchy. Learn it. Live it. Love it.

The designer behind the pillow, Charles Kaisin, said his design reflects and embodies the ethos of recycling:  “I drew the design inspiration from the cellulose molecule, the natural raw material of paper pulp. Styled and repeated into a visual structure it becomes its very own source of inspiration.”

At the moment, the new pillow is really more of a publicity stunt aimed at calling attention to the latest and soon-to-be-released IKEA catalog, but the idea itself is commendable; anything that gets people to think about the impact of solid waste is worth calling out.

To Safely Dispose of Your Cell Phone, Don’t Do What This Presidential Candidate Did With His!

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 10.32.14 AMYou may have seen the recent video made by one presidential candidate, which shows him destroying his cellphone after another presidential candidate gave out his phone number at a media event.

Clearly, the video is a light-hearted and tongue-in-cheek response to a political story, but it got us to thinking.

So we made this video.