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Environmental Manager Anne Hewes Ph.D.)
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A trial summer recycling program pays dividends
Date of Release: October 20, 2009
Shelley Dunn, ecomaine, 207-773-1738
Harrison Town Manager Bradley Plante, 207-583-2241
Ogunquit Town Manager Thomas Fortier, 207-646-5139
The small Maine towns of Harrison (population: 2,458) and Ogunquit (population: 1,286) realized measurable increases in their municipal recycling percentage rates and decreases in waste disposal costs this summer through a trial campaign specifically targeting vacationers.
The results showed an increase in recycling percentages for both towns, as compared to the same three-month period last year: Harrison’s increased by 12.25% and Ogunquit’s by 28.61%. These recycling rates are derived from the comparison of total waste tonnage to the number of recycling tons received at ecomaine, a non-profit, municipally-owned recycling, waste-to-energy, and landfill operation serving more than 20% of Maine’s population. That is, a town collecting 70 tons of waste and 30 tons of recycling has a total of 100 tons; recycling material is 30 percent of that total.
Both Harrison Town Manager Bradley Plante and Ogunquit Town Manager Thomas Fortier stressed that recycling is not only an environmental concern; it is also a financial concern for municipalities. Each of ecomaine’s 21 owner–communities pays $88 per ton of trash, but is entitled to recycle at no charge. As items get recycled, instead of thrown in with the trash, the town’s waste tonnage is reduced. From June through July 2009, compared to 2008 at the same time, Harrison saved $2,990 and Ogunquit saved $919 in waste disposal fees.
In September, one month after the summer recycling pilot campaign ended, Harrison benefited from a 7.9% increase in recycling compared to last September and Ogunquit increased 1% over last year.
The experiment was funded jointly by municipally-owned ecomaine and by the Maine State Planning Office’s waste management and recycling division. ecomaine Board Chairman and Windham Town Manager Anthony Plante said, “These two towns were chosen because they have small populations that swell with tens of thousands of visitors from June through August. And, with those thousands of visitors come tons of extra waste that cost the towns money.”
Each of the two participating towns were given 70 recycling bins, a supply of posters, and a several thousand 5×7” cards printed with detailed recycling information and using the theme “Families recycle…even on vacation.” Though the materials were created by ecomaine and ideas for distribution were discussed, it was left to the individual towns to determine how the pilot campaign would be implemented. “The materials we provided were catalysts and tools, but the successful outcomes were due to the planning and implementation done by volunteers with the support of their town managers,” added Chairman Plante.
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Pilot recycling program for vacationers seems to be working (so far)
Date of Release: July 22, 2009
Contact: Shelley Dunn, ecomaine, 207-773-1738
Harrison and Ogunquit are the only two Maine municipalities chosen to participate in a trial, summer recycling program and in its first month, June, both towns showed increases over last year: Harrison was up by 4.41 percent and Ogunquit was up by 7.29 percent. The program, funded jointly by municipally-owned ecomaine and the Maine State Planning Office’s waste management and recycling division, is meant to remind summer visitors to recycle “even on vacation.”
Harrison’s recycling rate for June 2008 was 10.54 percent, but this June the recycling rate climbed to 14.95%. Though Town Manager Brad Plante was pleased to learn of the increase in recycling, he added, “We still have a long way to go.”
Ogunquit’s rate in June 2008 was 12.41 percent and rose to 19.70 percent during the same period this year. “This is a good start,” said Town Manager Thomas Fortier, “but we can do a lot better than 19 or 20 percent.”
The trial recycling campaign began June 1 and will continue through August 31, 2009.
ecomaine Communications Specialist Shelley Dunn explained that recycling rates are derived from comparing the total number of waste tons to the number of recycling tons received. “That is,” she said, “if a town sends us 70 tons of waste and 30 tons of recycling, the total is 100 tons and recycling is 30 percent of that total.” Both Plante and Fortier stressed that recycling is not only an environmental concern; it is also a financial concern for municipalities. Each of ecomaine’s 21 owner-communities pays $88 per ton of trash, but is entitled to recycle at no charge. As items get recycled, instead of thrown in with the trash, the town’s cost of trash disposal goes down.
The summer recycling programs in both Harrison and Ogunquit are spearheaded by town citizens who have volunteered their time to organize the distribution of posters, information cards, and blue recycling bins. They can be contacted through the Harrison and Ogunquit Town Offices.
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For more information about recycling, visit www.ecomaine.org or call 207-773-1738. ecomaine is a non-profit, municipally-owned and operated recycling, waste disposal, and landfill operation.
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