Westbrook signs contract for recycling, waste with ecomaine

City to undertake educational campaign to reduce recycling contamination

The City Council of Westbrook on Monday approved a ten-year contract with ecomaine of Portland for processing and sorting of recyclables and waste, with an eye on vigorous education and outreach, to better educate residents on the recycling program.

The contract, which begins on July 1 and represents a return to ecomaine for the City, after more than 20 years with Pine Tree Waste, will see approximately 7,000 tons of the City’s residential recycling and solid waste come to ecomaine’s single-sort recycling facility and waste-to-energy power plant.  ecomaine also processes recycling and trash for more than 65 other Maine communities, including most municipalities in Cumberland County.

“We’re extraordinarily glad to welcome back Westbrook to ecomaine’s portfolio of members after many years,” said ecomaine CEO Kevin Roche.  “Westbrook is a natural fit for our programs, given how close together we are, and especially with the City’s demonstrated vision for a hands-on and collaborative approach to providing recycling education to its residents.”

For the first year of the contract – until June 2021 – the City will continue to collect recyclables and trash separately.  When they are brought to ecomaine, however, the materials will be combined as trash to be combusted at the waste-to-energy plant at the direction of the City, due to very high levels of contamination in Westbrook’s recycling stream.  During this time, the City will work with ecomaine to provide significant educational resources to Westbrook residents on what is – and isn’t recyclable.

“We’re fortunate now to have ecomaine’s full-time educational staff in our corner,” said Westbrook Mayor Michael Foley.  “Westbrook’s recycling contamination levels are currently too high; it is our hope that the first year of education will help all residents to recycle correctly, saving the City costly contamination fees and allowing for the sustainability of this program.”

Residents will receive a number of ecomaine’s “Do & Don’t” recycling resources, from lists and magnets to the Recyclopedia, an online database and mobile app to look up more than 1,200 items.  Additionally, ecomaine and City staff will engage in hands-on, curbside education to inform people of recycling contamination at the household level in the months ahead.