SOUTH PORTLAND — After receiving positive feedback from a year-long pilot project, the city is rolling out a food waste collection program for all residents.
South Portland hopes to recycle 40 percent of its waste by the year 2020, said Julie Rosenbach, director of sustainability, and this program is intended to further the city’s goal.
The city’s opt-in program makes South Portland the first in the state to offer curbside pick-up and collection bins for food waste, she said.
“I’m really happy with what we came up with. There’s something for everybody. It’s not mandatory; there is a free option as well as a contract plan,” Rosenbach said. “I think it will be well received.”
Beginning next month, while supplies last, the city will provide 12-gallon wheeled bins to residents who wish to recycle their food scraps. Rosenbach said 2,000 bins have been ordered, and staff will later assess how many more to order.
Residents can receive a bin by contacting Rosenbach at 347-4148 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
There will also be four sites where residents can drop off their waste free of charge: the transfer station, City Hall, the municipal golf course maintenance building, or the Redbank Community Hub. Curbside pick-up will be offered at a reduced rate of $9 a month through private waste collection company Garbage to Garden.
The pilot program was introduced in May 2017, and it is credited with increasing recycling rates in two participating neighborhoods.
About 600 households in the Knightville and Meetinghouse Hill neighborhoods received 6-gallon buckets to use for curbside compost collection during the pilot.
The city and ecomaine, the regional waste management service, estimate up to a third of household waste is from food.
As a result of the pilot program, recycling increased in the two neighborhoods by nearly 10 percent, from 29 percent to 38 percent, and 30 tons of waste were collected from May to November 2017, according to data provided by the city’s sustainability office.
The compost is delivered to ecomaine, aggregated with business food waste, and then sent to Exeter Agri-Energy in Exeter, where it is combined with cow manure in an anaerobic digester. The machine converts the matter into electricity, a liquid by-product for fertilizer, and a solid material for animal bedding or compost.
A compost bucket sits at a South Portland curb along with the city’s trash and recycling bins. The city is expanding a program to collect food waste in an effort to increase recycling rates to 40 percent by 2020.