Know before you throw!
The municipalities of Falmouth, Scarborough, South Portland, and Windham conducted a pilot project with ecomaine designed to prevent recycling contamination, avoid additional fees, and educate our residents about the importance of recycling correctly.
These towns hired interns to check recycling carts placed curbside. During these inspections, interns tagged carts with GREEN tags for a job well done, YELLOW tags for those that need 1 or 2 changes, and RED tags for bins with too many items that cannot be recycled These bins are considered contaminated and increase costs for the municipality.
The tags will include an explanation for the reason the item(s) do not belong in the recycling cart. Pine Tree Waste did not collect the carts with RED tags on them, and the unacceptable items were to be removed from the cart before collection the next week.
By implementing this pilot project, our hope was to decrease the amount of contamination in our recycling streams, first and foremost. 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.
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
Please feel free to contact your town’s coordinator (list below) for guidance on how to dispose of your items.
Energy & Sustainability Coordinator
Sustainability Program Coordinator
For more info, see some of the news this exciting pilot has received!