South Portland Food Waste Recycling Program

South Portland has a goal to recycle 40% of its waste by 2020 through composting, reuse, recycling, and purposeful purchasing. Diverting food waste from the municipal solid waste stream is one of the most effective ways to achieve this goal because on average, up to a third of household waste consists of food scraps. Rather than going down the disposal or being sent to a landfill, this food waste can be converted to compost or be sent to an anaerobic digester to produce sustainable electricity. 

With positive feedback from residents and data collected from the pilot, South Portland is now rolling out an opt-in food waste recycling program for all City residents.

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Join the Program  I  What goes in the bin?  I  Your food scraps feed Maine  

Results of the pilot  I  FAQ

Join the Program

Starting in July, the City will provide 12-gallon wheeled bins to residents who wish to recycle their food scraps, free while supplies last. These bins can be lined with plastic bags or residents can use smaller clear bags to contain the food scraps.

1. Sign up to get a Free Bin- Residents can opt in to the program and receive a bin by filling out this form or contacting Julie Rosenbach, Sustainability Director at 347-4148. 

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*It is okay to line these bins with plastic bags or smaller clear bags to contain the food scraps!

 

 2. Disposal Options- Residents will then have two options for disposal:

A) Designated Drop-off Sites- Residents may bring their food waste to one of four designated drop-off sites free of charge: 

    • Transfer Station (929 Highland Ave)
    • City Hall (25 Cottage Rd)
    • Golf Course Maintenance Building (221 Westbrook St)
    • Redbank Community Hub (580 Westbrook St)

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B) Private Contracting with Garbage to Garden
- Residents may hire Garbage to Garden, a private food waste hauler, to empty the bin at your curb for a monthly fee. The City has negotiated a reduced rate for this service ($9/month). Contact Garbage to Garden at 207-332-0277 or info@garbagetogarden.org.

 

What goes in the bin?   

As a general rule of thumb, if it grows it goes! It is okay to line these bins with plastic bags or use smaller clear plastic bags, such as produce bags, to contain the food scraps.

For more information, check out ecomaine's detailed list of items that can and cannot go into your food waste bin and videos for tips on how to handle your food waste.

What goes in the Bin?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

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Your Food Scraps Feed Maine

Food scraps collected atthe drop-off sites are first taken to ecomaine in Portland. Large consolidated loads of food scraps that accumulate at ecomaine are then transported to Stonyvale Dairy Farm in Exeter, Maine. At the farm, food scraps are mixed with cow manure in an anaerobic digester to create sustainable electricity, farm fertilizer, and animal bedding for dairy cows.  

How your food scraps feed Maine      

Results of the Pilot

Beginning in May, 2017 the City launched a one-year curbside food waste collection pilot in Knightville and a portion of the Meetinghouse Hill neighborhood. Residents in the pilot received a 6-gallon bin for food waste which was collected weekly with trash and recycling. Additional bins were set up at the Transfer Station for residents living outside of the pilot area.

More than 60% of eligible households participated in the pilot at least once over the course of the year, diverting over 100,000 lbs of food scraps from the waste stream. Thanks to residents in the pilot areas, the neighborhood was able to increase the overall recycling rate from 28% to 38%. Additionally during the year, City residents dropped off over 15,000 lbs of food scraps at the transfer station. This success confirms that diverted food scraps from the waste stream can help South Portland achieve a citywide goal of recycling 40% of waste by 2020.   top.png   
                     

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do I get a bin?

The City will provide 12-gallon wheeled bins to residents who wish to recycle food scraps, free while supplies last. To get a bin, fill out this form or contact Julie Rosenbach, Sustainability Director, at 347-4148.

2. What goes in the bin?

As a general rule of thumb, if it grows, it goes! ecomaine provides a detailed list of items that can and cannot go into your food waste bin.

3. Where are the drop-off locations around the City?

Residents may bring food waste to one of four designated disposal sites free of charge. Food waste disposal sites are well-marked with a Garbage to Garden kiosk and large green bins:

i.     Transfer Station (929 Highland Ave. 8am-3:30pm, Monday- Saturday)

ii.   City Hall (25 Cottage Rd)

iii.  Golf Course Maintenance Building (221 Westbrook St.)

iv.  Neighborhood Resource Hub (586 Westbrook St.)

 4. What happens to the food waste after it is collected?

Food scraps collected are first taken to ecomaine in Portland. Large consolidated loads of food scraps that accumulate at ecomaine are then transported by Agri-Cycle  to Exeter Agri-Energy located on Stonyvale Dairy Farm in Exeter, Maine. At the farm, food scraps are mixed with cow manure in an anaerobic digester to create sustainable electricity, farm fertilizer, and animal bedding for the dairy cows.

5. What are the benefits?

      South Portland has a goal to recycle 40% of its waste by 2020 through composting, reuse, recycling, and purposeful purchasing. Diverting food waste from the municipal solid waste stream is one of the most effective ways to achieve this goal because on average, up to a third of household waste consists of food scraps. Rather than going down the disposal or being sent to a landfill, this food waste can be converted to compost or sent to an anaerobic digester to produce sustainable electricity.

       6. How can I prevent my bin from getting messy with fruit flies and odors?

      Clear plastic produce bags from the grocery store can be used to tie up your food waste before putting it into the bin. Exter Agri-Energy has a machine that separates food waste from plastic bags. You can also line the bin with newspaper before throwing in your food waste. Residents are responsible for cleaning their bin.

       7. What if my bin is lost or damaged? 

       If you have a lost or damaged bin, contact the Sustainability Office at jrosenbach@southportland.org or call 207-347-4148 for a replacement. 

       8. I use an in-sink garbage disposal. Should I discontinue that?

       Yes, we strongly recommend placing your food scraps in the bin rather than down the garbage disposal. There are higher uses for compost. Putting food waste into the City’s waste water system has environmental costs.

       9. I already compost in my backyard. Should I discontinue that?

       Not necessarily. You should feel free to continue composting in your backyard. Residents may use the food waste collection program to compost items that you cannot put in your backyard compost- such as liquids, fats, oils, greases, meat and fish scraps, paper napkins, compostable silverware, as well as coffee filters and tea bags. Food waste collection can also serve as a backup in the winter months. Backyard bins are available from Public Works.

      10. I have a private contract with Garbage to Garden. What should I do?

That is up to you! Once you have received your free food waste cart from the City, the choice is yours. You can elect to continue contracting with Garbage to Garden to haul your food waste and provide you compost. The City has negotiated a reduced rate. Otherwise, you can bring your food waste to any of the four collection sites at no cost.top.png

11. How often will food waste at the drop-off locations be collected?

Carts located at the drop-off locations will be emptied weekly by Garbage to Garden. In summer months, carts will be emptied more frequently. If you notice a full or smelly drop-off cart, please contact the Sustainability Office to coordinate a pick-up within 24 hours.