South Portland adds recycling, composting to July 4 celebration

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Just in time for Independence Day, the city has announced its intention for independence from providing only trash bins at municipal events.

The effort will be piloted next week at the second annual family Fourth of July celebration at Bug Light Park, where the city will provide compost and recycling bins in addition to trash cans. 

Sustainability Coordinator Julie Rosenbach announced the city’s partnership with Portland-based Garbage to Garden earlier this week. The company will provide all trash collection, recycling and composting at the event, for a fee of $300.

Garbage to Garden offers composting services to businesses and residents in South Portland and six other municipalities, including Portland, Brunswick, Westbrook and Falmouth.

In March, the Energy and Recycling Committee set a goal for the city to raise its overall recycling rate from about 30 percent to 35 percent by 2017 and 40 percent by 2019.

The overarching goal is to achieve “zero waste, or darn close,” according to Rosenbach. “Targeting bold waste reduction at municipal events is the next step toward reaching our goal of increasing South Portland’s recycling rate,” she said.

The city’s goal is to divert upwards of 90 percent of discarded waste from trash cans to being either compost or recycling, Rosenbach said. 

“We want to show the community how easy it can be to reduce the amount of trash we generate,” she said. 

On July 4 at Bug Light Park, participants will have the option to discard waste in one of two waste tents and several satellite bins. Volunteers will also be present to answer questions. 

Garbage to Garden’s services will also be used at the annual municipal employee appreciation picnic July 23. 

Starting next week, the Redbank Community Center will use Garbage to Garden’s composting services during after-school and teen-center programs, funded through an Out of School Time grant. 

The goal is to eventually offer alternative waste methods at each municipal event and in each building, Rosenbach said Wednesday.

The South Portland Historical Society will sponsor the Fourth of July family event and open its doors at to the Cushing’s Point Museum in Bug Light Park at 10 a.m. followed by a barbecue at 11 a.m. A “fiery and patriotic” reading of the Declaration of Independence by “Ben Franklin” will take place at noon, according to the city’s community newsletter.

Activities for children in the afternoon will include “old-fashioned games” and kite flying. 

Portland’s fireworks near the Eastern Promenade are slated to begin around 9:20 p.m.  

After fireworks conclude and waste is collected, “about the only thing we expect to see in trash is the utensils, and next year we’re aiming to make those compostable as well,” Rosenbach said. 

Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA

South Portland and Scarborough reporter for The Forecaster. Graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Alex can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106.