Know which bin to put it in!
As residents of our community, we all have a role to play in sustainable waste management – and that includes recycling correctly. Typically, the cost to deal with trash and recycling is one of any community’s top expenditures for the year, but poor recycling practices cost towns and their taxpayers even more. When trash ends up in your recycling bin, additional time and money are spent cleaning it out. This can amount to thousands of dollars every month.
Beginning this summer, ecomaine will be working with South Portland and Westbrook (with possible expansion to other communities, too) to conduct inspections of recycling carts placed curbside throughout these communities. During these inspections, staffers will tag carts with GREEN tags for a job well done, YELLOW tags for those that need 1-2 changes, and RED tags for contaminated bins.
The tags and information will include an explanation for the reason the item(s) do not belong in the recycling stream. Pine Tree Waste will not collect carts with too many unacceptable items (RED tags), and the contamination must be removed from your recycling and put into your trash before it will be collected. Please contact ecomaine or your local public works staff for more information.
This is a project designed to prevent recycling contamination, avoid additional fees, and educate our residents about the importance of recycling correctly. Should your cart be tagged, please feel free to contact us for guidance on how to dispose of your items.
Our staff will have materials to help you “know before you throw,” and you can request additional information through your town or ecomaine. For more information, visit www.ecomaine.org/101, or contact us at email@example.com or 207-773-1738!
Westbrook contact: Lynn Leavitt, Sustainability Coordinator
South Portland contacts: Public Works Department; Sustainability Department
Scarborough contact: Jami Fitch, Sustainability Coordinator
Portland Contact: Public Works, Solid Waste Division
News about this program
ecomaine interns expand recycling inspections in Portland, Scarborough (News Center Maine)
ecomaine providing education on recycling to Scarborough residents (Scarborough Leader)
Interns to Increase Awareness About the Importance of Proper Recycling in Southern Maine (Waste Advantage Magazine)
SoPo, Westbrook program examines recycle bins, contamination (American Journal)
S. Portland, Westbrook residents to be graded on recycling (News Center Maine)
Recycling ‘police’ will be watching in Scarborough and Portland (Portland Press Herald)
Maine waste company is sending interns to inspect people’s recycling bins (Bangor Daily News)
We have resources to help you learn more about which bin to put your stuff in!
- ecomaine‘s free Recyclopedia app and online database to look up what to do with more than 1,000 items
- South Portland’s Recyclopedia – specific to South Portland, with pickup info and food waste pickup
- A list of the “dos” and “don’ts” of recycling
- A link to ecomaine‘s page of all kinds of posters, mailers, flyers, and banners about recycling right
By implementing this project, our hope is to decrease the amount of contamination in our recycling streams, first and foremost, in order to increase the value and amount of recycling in southern Maine. By combining education and enforcement, we hope to inform our residents of the effect that trash in the recycling can have on our communities’ finances. But we also hope that it will start conversations in neighborhoods about recycling, trash, and sustainability! And ultimately, we would like to know if we can copy this model in other communities in Maine, too!
(We learned a lot from this pilot, in addition to decreasing contamination around 5%, saving an average of $4,000 – and we’re hoping to spread the good news! If you’d like our toolkit, please get in touch by filling out the form below.)