Blog Post: Powered by Trash!

When was the last time you felt good about putting something in the trash can?  Maybe you even felt guilty for having to throw something away?  Did you put it in the recycling bin, hoping it would be recycled against all hope that it was actually a recyclable material?

The great news is that for 72 towns and communities in Maine and two in New Hampshire, a non-profit waste management company called ecomaine takes your trash and converts it to electricity, while reducing it in size and volume.  So you don’t have to wish-cycle in order to keep items out of the ever-growing landfills.

If it’s not something you can reduce your use of, reuse in any way, recycle correctly, or compost as organic material, the only option is to put it in the trash can.  Maine is lucky to have not one but three waste-to-energy facilities in the state.  This means that much of Maine’s trash essentially goes to renewable energy in the form of making electricity, just by burning your trash.  Pollution IS created in the burning process but it is then mitigated by our rigorous pollution control systems and testing process.  Our emissions (which are 96% water vapor) are monitored and regulated by the Department of Environmental Protection and the Environmental Protection Agency!

The combusted trash turns to ash and leftover metals after a four-hour burning process.  Ferrous metals are taken out by a giant magnet that removes about 24,000 pounds of metal per 24-hour period.  The leftover ash – about 10-12 full dump-trucks per 24 hour period – is taken to the ecomaine-owned landfill just three miles down the road from our waste-to-energy facility, which is near the Portland airport.  Remember that this ash is now 90% less what it was when I came to ecomaine from your curbside or transfer station!

Ash is then dropped off in the landfill and flattened with a bulldozer!  Vroom!  From here, the ash is inert and does NOT emit methane or other harmful gasses, it doesn’t runoff and pollute waterways and since it is only 10% of its original size and volume, it takes up FAR less space than it would otherwise! 

So don’t feel guilty putting that trash item in your waste bin.  Remember to follow the waste hierarchy, but not everything can be reduced, reused, recycled or composted.  That’s when ecomaine’s waste-to-energy building is waiting for your trash items to safely reduce them and make electricity for upto 15,000 homes per year at the same time.

We at ecomaine urge you to find out where your trash and recycling goes and that’s why we offer tours Monday-Friday, as well as having extensive information of what we do and how we do it on our website: ecomaine.org.  Contact Katrina Venhuizen at venhuizen@ecomaine.org to schedule a tour for students 2nd grade to adult today!