Community Recycling Interns Pilot Project

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!

Check out our infographic recap!

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.

Request our Toolkit

Interested in starting up a program to reduce recycling contamination in your community? Request our toolkit here!
  • Let us know who you are!
  • Where are you hoping to implement the program?
  • ecomaine is pleased to provide education and support for your pilot project - let us know if we can help, and how!
  • Is this your first try, or have you done this before?
  • Would you be interested in integrating a community-based social marketing curriculum into your program?

We have resources to help you learn more about which bin to put your stuff in!

Please feel free to contact your town’s coordinator (list below) for guidance on how to dispose of your items.

Kimberly Darling
Energy & Sustainability Coordinator
Jami Fitch
Sustainability Coordinator
South Portland
Julie Rosenbach
Sustainability Director
Lucy Brennan
Sustainability Program Coordinator
Gretchen Anderson
Environmental &
Sustainability Coordinator

For more info, see some of the news this exciting pilot has received!

Watch our info session, recapping the pilot project (video)

ecomaine: Intern Pilot Program Led To Significant Cuts In Recycling Contamination (Maine Public Radio)

Some Maine communities improve how they recycle following study (WGME)

The Interns Teaching Mainers To Be Better Recyclers (Maine Public Radio)

Multi-town recycling project results in ‘clear improvement’ (Portland Press Herald)

ecomaine, municipalities double down on ‘proper recycling’ efforts (Mainebiz)

Residents in 4 communities will soon find out whether they’re recycling right or ‘wish-cycling’ (Portland Press Herald)

Interns hired to grade Maine residents’ recycling (WGME)
News Center Maine, May 6, 2019