Food Waste Recycling


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ecomaine is proud to have added food waste recycling to its portfolio of sustainable waste management solutions in September 2016. We are building food waste recycling capacity in southern Maine, serving as a central collection point for grocery stores, institutions and  participating municipalities.  We learned from our extensive Organics Feasibility Study in 2013 that food waste comprises up to 28 percent of Maine trash cans. And in a 2018 study, we continued to learn about opportunities for greater efficiencies in food waste collection across communities. Therefore, ecomaine is offering this program to help its member communities make bigger strides toward reaching the state’s 50% recycling goal by 2021.

In May of 2017, residents of the pilot communities in Scarborough (260 homes in the Pleasant Hill neighborhood) and South Portland (600 homes in Knightville & Meetinghouse Hill neighborhoods) began our first curbside food waste recycling program! All residents in these towns also have the option to drop off their food waste at designated drop-off points in the two communities. Read our FAQs here.

Food Waste w cutting board
“Kick the Ick” by lining countertop bins with re-used clear plastic bags from grocery stores.

These towns  contracted with distinct haulers, who will collect the food waste each week and deliver it to ecomaine’s Portland facility. Agri-Cycle Energy transports large tractor-trailer loads of food waste to Exeter Agri-Energy in Exeter, Maine, where the food waste is de-packaged before it is anaerobically digested to produce sustainable power, organic farm fertilizer and cow bedding for the Maine family dairy farm Stonyvale Farm. The packaging that is removed from the food waste is delivered back to ecomaine to be burned for energy.

Progress Report – October 2017 

Scarborough: In September of 2017, Scarborough concluded its four month pilot program having collected 25,580 pounds of food waste at the curb with a diversion rate that increased the community’s recycling rate by 16% to 46%. Throughout the pilot, approximately 44% of participants set out a cart each week.
South Portland: The City of South Portland continues their pilot until April of 2018. From May through October, a total of 51,140 pounds of food waste were collected at the curb increasing the pilot neighborhood’s recycling rate by 9% to 36%. Throughout the pilot, approximately 37% of residents set out a bin each week.

What is acceptable food waste?

YES:NO  <— Click image to enlarge or print.

Why recycle food waste?

We Want to Always Divert Recyclable Materials from Landfills
At ecomaine, all household waste is burned to produce energy and to make it suitable for landfilling as an ash material. But let’s face it: tomatoes, lettuce and other wet food waste don’t burn well. Instead, they could be converted beautifully into compost that feeds Maine soil, or into sustainable energy that powers Maine homes and businesses.  Whether you’re recycling your food waste in a backyard compost pile or through an industrial system like ecomaine’s, your efforts are wicked good for Maine’s environment.

A Valuable Resource, Comprising up to 30% of Household Waste
You can divert your waste from landfills by getting behind the statewide goal to reach a 50 percent recycling rate by 2021. The fastest way is by adding FOOD WASTE RECYCLING to the three Rs you’ve already been practicing to downsize your waste at home: REDUCE, REUSE and RECYCLE. Your food scraps can instead be used as a renewable resource right here in Maine, to help Maine dairy farmers.

Food Scraps Saved Are Dollars Saved
For every ton of food scraps separated from your trash, your town saves more than $15 off of its $70.50 per ton waste-processing fee. In other words, throwing food scraps into the trash is like throwing away money!

View our three Food Waste Recycling videos on our YouTube channel:
(1) Why Feed ME Food Scraps?
(2) Kick the Ick
(3) If it grows, it goes

ecomaine’s Food Waste Recycling Program In the News

South Portland-Cape Elizabeth Sentry – Sept. 1, 2017
Waste 360 – Sept. 6, 2017

Maine municipalities begin testing curbside food waste pickup projects
Waste Today Magazine – March 28, 2017
Communities To Experiment with Collecting Food Waste For Composting
Maine Public Radio – March 27, 2017
Waste not, want not: Food waste pilot programs set to begin
WCSH 6 – March 27, 2017
In a first for Maine, Scarborough and South Portland will start collecting food waste
Portland Press Herald – March 27, 2017
Food waste recycling made easy
Green & Healthy Maine HOMES – Spring/Summer 2017
2 municipalities begin ecomaine partnership for curbside food waste collection
Waste Dive – March 10, 2017
City to pilot food waste collection
South Portland – Cape Elizabeth Sentry – March 10, 2017
South Portland, Scarborough to try curbside food waste collection
The Forecaster – March 9, 2017
In key advance, food waste recycling-to-energy program begins in Portland area
Portland Press Herald – Sept. 7, 2016
Food Waste for Anaerobic Digestion Feedstock for Exeter Agri-Energy in Maine: Portland, Maine based ecomaine has launched a new food waste recycling service to help its member communities reach the statewide recycling goal of 50% by 2021.
Waste Management World – Sept. 8, 2016
Food Waste Recycling Waste-to-Energy Program Launches in Portland, Maine
Waste360 – Sept. 9. 2016
Kitchen scraps fuel new ecomaine compost program
The Forecaster – Sept. 6, 2016

Check back soon for more updates about ecomaine’s Food Waste Recycling program. If you have questions about this program, contact ecomaine Communications Manager Matt Grondin.