Contact: Shelley Dunn, Communications Specialist
207-532-3108 (direct) or firstname.lastname@example.org
$10,000 in School Recycling Grants from ecomaine
Details at our May 29th meeting for school administrators and teachers; see flyer
Public Works Celebration
Saturday, May 18
Annual ecomaine Open House
Saturday, September 22 (8:30-11:30 am)
Free reycling of TVs & electronics, Free breakfast sandwiches, Free recycling bins, Free raffle for a tent & 2 sleeping bags, and much more!
Drug Take Back: Saturday, September 29, 2012
Catalog Choice Results: October 17, 2011
Drug Take Back : Saturday, October 29, 2011
10:00 am-2:00 pm at ecomaine (64 Blueberry Road, Portland)
Free Recycling Festival: Saturday, September 24, 2011
Figures Show Recycling Financially Benefits Local Municipalities (7/26/11)
Read the news release(622 KB)
Snakes Found in Recycling. Read the article (PDF 327KB)
News: Every month for 12 months (PDF 199KB)
2011 eco-Excellence Awards
View nomination information (PDF 501KB)
Deadline for entries: Friday, February 18
ecomaine's 2010 Open House Photos
See photos from our September 25th Open House (856 KB).
Date: Friday, June 18, 2010
Contact: Shelley Dunn, Communications Specialist (207.773-1738)
Portland Director of Public Works Michael Bobinsky was elected ecomaine chairman of the board following the completion of Windham Town Manager Tony Plante's term in that position. Cape Elizabeth Town Manager Michael McGovern was elected vice chairman, South Portland City Manager James Gailey was elected Treasurer, and Gray resident Gary Foster was elected secretary. ecomaine's general manager is Kevin Roche.
ecomaine, a municipally-owned and operated recycling and waste disposal concern serves 39 communities and has an annual budget of $25 million.
Date of Release: January 12, 2010
ecomaine, a non-profit, municipally owned waste management corporation, has broken four significant recycling records:
ecomaine Chairman of the Board of Directors and Windham Town Manager Tony Plante said, “These new records really show the public’s commitment to recycling. Even in this economy, with spending and consumption down, and, therefore, lower volumes of trash, people have really made recycling part of their routine, especially where curbside and single-sort recycling are being done.”
Troy Moon, chairman of the ecomaine Recycling Committee and the City of Portland’s Solid Waste Manager, noted that the residents of ecomaine’s 21 owner communities have realized that “recycling helps lower the cost of their municipality’s waste disposal. Cities and towns don’t have to pay anything to dispose of recycling, but there is a fee for trash –that’s been an economic incentive.”
Moon said ecomaine continually educates the public about recycling and encourages recycling through annual eco-Excellence Awards, facility “open house” events, pamphlets, articles, and community meetings. “Though our communities have done a good job, we’re always looking for new ways to encourage more recycling.”
# # #
Environmental Manager Anne Hewes Ph.D.)
explains water sampling at the landfield
See more photos here (PDF 1.80MB)
Date of Release: October 20, 2009
Shelley Dunn, ecomaine, 207-773-1738
Harrison Town Manager Bradley Plante, 207-583-2241
Ogunquit Town Manager Thomas Fortier, 207-646-5139
The small Maine towns of Harrison (population: 2,458) and Ogunquit (population: 1,286) realized measurable increases in their municipal recycling percentage rates and decreases in waste disposal costs this summer through a trial campaign specifically targeting vacationers.
The results showed an increase in recycling percentages for both towns, as compared to the same three-month period last year: Harrison’s increased by 12.25% and Ogunquit’s by 28.61%. These recycling rates are derived from the comparison of total waste tonnage to the number of recycling tons received at ecomaine, a non-profit, municipally-owned recycling, waste-to-energy, and landfill operation serving more than 20% of Maine’s population. That is, a town collecting 70 tons of waste and 30 tons of recycling has a total of 100 tons; recycling material is 30 percent of that total.
Both Harrison Town Manager Bradley Plante and Ogunquit Town Manager Thomas Fortier stressed that recycling is not only an environmental concern; it is also a financial concern for municipalities. Each of ecomaine’s 21 owner-communities pays $88 per ton of trash, but is entitled to recycle at no charge. As items get recycled, instead of thrown in with the trash, the town’s waste tonnage is reduced. From June through July 2009, compared to 2008 at the same time, Harrison saved $2,990 and Ogunquit saved $919 in waste disposal fees.
In September, one month after the summer recycling pilot campaign ended, Harrison benefited from a 7.9% increase in recycling compared to last September and Ogunquit increased 1% over last year.
The experiment was funded jointly by municipally-owned ecomaine and by the Maine State Planning Office’s waste management and recycling division. ecomaine Board Chairman and Windham Town Manager Anthony Plante said, “These two towns were chosen because they have small populations that swell with tens of thousands of visitors from June through August. And, with those thousands of visitors come tons of extra waste that cost the towns money.”
Each of the two participating towns were given 70 recycling bins, a supply of posters, and a several thousand 5x7” cards printed with detailed recycling information and using the theme “Families recycle…even on vacation.” Though the materials were created by ecomaine and ideas for distribution were discussed, it was left to the individual towns to determine how the pilot campaign would be implemented. “The materials we provided were catalysts and tools, but the successful outcomes were due to the planning and implementation done by volunteers with the support of their town managers,” added Chairman Plante.
# # #
Date of Release: July 22, 2009
Contact: Shelley Dunn, ecomaine, 207-773-1738
Harrison and Ogunquit are the only two Maine municipalities chosen to participate in a trial, summer recycling program and in its first month, June, both towns showed increases over last year: Harrison was up by 4.41 percent and Ogunquit was up by 7.29 percent. The program, funded jointly by municipally-owned ecomaine and the Maine State Planning Office’s waste management and recycling division, is meant to remind summer visitors to recycle “even on vacation.”
Harrison’s recycling rate for June 2008 was 10.54 percent, but this June the recycling rate climbed to 14.95%. Though Town Manager Brad Plante was pleased to learn of the increase in recycling, he added, “We still have a long way to go.”
Ogunquit’s rate in June 2008 was 12.41 percent and rose to 19.70 percent during the same period this year. “This is a good start,” said Town Manager Thomas Fortier, “but we can do a lot better than 19 or 20 percent.”
The trial recycling campaign began June 1 and will continue through August 31, 2009.
ecomaine Communications Specialist Shelley Dunn explained that recycling rates are derived from comparing the total number of waste tons to the number of recycling tons received. “That is,” she said, “if a town sends us 70 tons of waste and 30 tons of recycling, the total is 100 tons and recycling is 30 percent of that total.” Both Plante and Fortier stressed that recycling is not only an environmental concern; it is also a financial concern for municipalities. Each of ecomaine’s 21 owner-communities pays $88 per ton of trash, but is entitled to recycle at no charge. As items get recycled, instead of thrown in with the trash, the town’s cost of trash disposal goes down.
The summer recycling programs in both Harrison and Ogunquit are spearheaded by town citizens who have volunteered their time to organize the distribution of posters, information cards, and blue recycling bins. They can be contacted through the Harrison and Ogunquit Town Offices.
# # #
For more information about recycling, visit www.ecomaine.org or call 207-773-1738. ecomaine is a non-profit, municipally-owned and operated recycling, waste disposal, and landfill operation.
Environmental Manager's Article: Download Now (2.13 MB)
> Symposium 9-2, $35: designed to help local businesses learn the value of "going green," practical and sustainable actions from "Best Practices for Green Marketing" to "How to Plan & Fund Energy Alternatives."Any college students may attend at no cost - call 781-2982 for a free pass.
> Expo 10-2, FREE and open to the public: a showcase of services, products and equipment that make it easier to "go green."
Register for the symposium workshops or the free expo by going to www.mainegreenevent.com
This event occured September 26; if you would like a DVD of the forum on biodiesal, ecomaine will provide one at no cost - just call us at 773-1738.
Listen to both sides of the issue:
> The pro-biodiesel perspective will be presented by Joel Glatz who is vice president of Frontier Energy, Inc. in China, Maine and vice president of Biofuel Brokers, LLC in Michigan.
> The anti-biodiesel point of view will be presented by Dr. Daniel Martinez of USM's Environmental Science and Policy department. He was formerly a critical resource systems specialist for AHEAD Energy Corporation.
Please call 773-1738.
Learn more about the recipients of the 2008 eco-Excellence Awards
Information about LEED training
More Than 4.7 Million Pounds in December
December 2007 broke its record for that month in recycling at ecomaine, a non-profit, municipally-owned company, which serves more than 20 percent of Maine's population. This total for commercial and residential recycling this December was 4.725 million pounds surpassing the previous December record by 392,000 pounds. It is also became the second highest one-month total, coming in just behind August 2007, since the organization began recycling in 1991.
ecomaine Board Chair Linda Boudreau, a South Portland City Counselor, pointed out that, "every pound of material recycled is one less pound in the waste stream and one less pound billed to local taxpayers." There is a charge per ton for the disposal of commercial and municipal waste, but ecomaine does not charge any fee for recyclable materials and their facility is open to everyone.
Troy Moon, a board member and chair of ecomaine's recycling committee, said, "ecomaine's new state-of-the-art single-sort equipment makes it possible to throw all recyclables together, without, for example, separating plastics from cardboard." "And," he added, "making it simple for businesses and residents to recycle is key to increasing the amount of material that is transferred from the waste pile to the recycling container."
"The population we serve has become increasingly committed to recycling, "noted Moon, "as shown by the increased recycling tonnage over the past 16 years. In 1991, our first year with recycling, we processed 321 tons in December and it took until 1999 to break the 1000-ton mark. This year, we hit 2363 tons and we hope that figure continues to rise."
ecomaine solicits nominees for 30 community awards
ecomaine, a municipally owned and operated recycling and waste disposal operation, is soliciting nominees for its annual eco-Excellence Awards, which are given in recognition of recycling efforts. Chair of the ecomaine Board of Directors Linda Boudreau (South Portland) announced that the names of nominees must be received at ecomaine by Friday, February 1st along with a brief description of the nominee's efforts on behalf of recycling. The awards are open to individuals or groups living or working in any of the 30 communities served by ecomaine (listed below), and entry forms can be found on-line by clicking here or by phoning 207-773-1738. Boudreau said ecomaine is "hoping to present one eco-Excellence Award to each eligible community."
The judging of entries will be done by members of the ecomaine Recycling Committee. Troy Moon, chair of the committee, and a member of the board of directors, said all the award recipients will be invited to a luncheon given in their honor in Portland on March 18. "At that time," said Moon, "we will present the award, be brought up-to-date on ecomaine's new single-sort operation, tour the new single-sort operation, and spend time exchanging ideas with each other."
Moon noted that past winners have included a high school ecology club that initiated a school-wide recycling awareness program, a volunteer recycling coordinator who organizes and operates the local transfer station swap shop, a local newspaper columnist who has written articles about recycling, a garbage collector who took time to explain recycling to his customers, a volunteer who puts in extra effort to participate in recycling events, and two elementary teachers who incorporated recycling into their curriculum.
Of this year's award recipients, one will also be named Grand Winner and will receive an Adirondack chair made with recycled plastic "wood."
A compilation of all entries will be available to the public in print and on this ecomaine website.
ecomaine, a waste handling operation owned and operated by 21municipalities in Southern Maine, has announced that it is sponsoring the first "ecomaine's Green Expo." Linda Boudreau, ecomaine board chair and South Portland City Councilor, said the one-day event will be held at the University of Southern Maine's gymnasium on November 15 and that there will be no admission charge. "The purpose of our Green Expo," she explained, "is to expose the general public to mainstream products and services that are earth-friendly and readily available. For example, I don't think most people are aware that Polar Fleece is made from plastic bottles."
ecomaine hopes to attract many local companies and individual artisans using recycled materials.
City of Portland Solid Waste Manager Troy Moon is chair of ecomaine's recycling committee, which is taking the lead on this event for the organization. "The Green Expo," said Moon, "which we hope will be an annual event, is not about living a Spartan life; it's about making environmentally-friendly choices that fit the lifestyle you have."
Boudreau pointed out that ecomaine's Green Expo "closes the loop" in recycling. "We now have single sort recycling for all our communities and that makes it really easy to do," she said. "An important part of the Green Expo's purpose is to complete the recycling process by creating demand for goods made from recycled materials."
Moon stated that to make participation affordable for companies of all sizes, exhibitor tables start at $200 and sponsorships start at $800. The event is being produced by Green Tree Event Consultants. For more information on sponsorship or exhibiting, contact Green Tree Event Consultants at 207-781-2982 or www.greentreeevents.com.
Green Expo 2007 Introduction (PDF 91KB)
Expo Sales Documents (PDF 190KB)
Expo Floor Plan (PDF 108KB)
Kevin Roche, general manager of ecomaine, a non-profit, municipally owned and operated waste handling company, announced that a three-year recycling contract with Town of Cornish (ME) has been signed. "We're very happy to be doing business with Cornish that makes ecological and economic sense," said Roche.
In the contract, the Town of Cornish agrees to send all its recyclable material to ecomaine's facility in Portland. Missi Labbe, ecomaine's new business development manager, explained that, "Because ecomaine just invested $3.7 million to create Maine's only single-sort recycling facility, the 1,300 residents of Cornish will be able to recycle more types of material, such as plastics numbered one through seven, and will no longer have to separate recyclables by type." Nationwide statistics show that the simplicity of combining all recyclable material into just one container significantly increases the recycling percentage rate and, she added, "the more recyclable material removed from their waste stream, the less Cornish will have to pay in waste disposal costs." Other benefits include less time spent at Recycling Center by residents and more efficient transportation of loads taken from the Recycling Center.
ecomaine's benefits come from having a greater volume of recyclable material to sell on the open market. Because of ecomaine's large volume and its ability to separate materials with state-of-the-art equipment, it commands a higher price for baled recyclables than Cornish could get on its own.
Others interested in municipal recycling contracts should call Missi Labbe at 207-773-1738.
Portland (Maine) ecomaine, a non-profit, municipally owned and operated waste disposal company, concluded its 2007 fiscal year with total revenues of $5.365 million from the sale of electricity - a seven year high. The electricity is made by ecomaine's waste-to-energy plant, which uses the un-recyclable trash from 28 municipalities as fuel for a steam generator.
Board Chair Linda Boudreau, a South Portland resident, said the annual number of megawatts generated has remained about the same, but that careful management of plant down-time has earned more money.
The sale of electricity helps to pay costs of ecomaine's total operation, including the ashfill/landfill and the state's only single-sort recycling plant.
For the first time, accredited auditors of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) have examined ecomaine's ashfill/landfill facility and have declared it is in conformance with all provisions of the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System Standard. ecomaine, a non-profit corporation owned and operated by 21 municipalities in southern Maine, serves more than 20 percent of the state's population.
The ISO, headquartered in Switzerland, sets voluntary but rigorous standards in many categories; ISO 14001 is the worldwide standard for environmental management systems in any business. Though the ecomaine recycling center and waste-to-energy facilities have held continuous certification for several years, this is the first time the organization has applied for ISO 14001 certification in relation to its ashfill/landfill.
Outside of Europe, it is rare for an ashfill/landfill to meet the ISO 14001 standard for environmental management.
ecomaine Board Chair Linda Boudreau, said, "Our ashfill/landfill certification is a great example of what can be achieved when we work together regionally and agree to make the environment our priority."
To determine whether or not an organization meets ISO 14001 standards, accredited auditors conduct on-site audits of environmental management in the 18 required categories. Anne Hewes, PhD, ecomaine's environmental manager, explained that "even after an organization is certified, it must pass detailed inspections for compliance every six months." After three years, auditors return to, again, inspect all 18 categories at once, beginning the process all over again. Hewes noted that, "ISO certification is very difficult to earn and, perhaps, even more difficult to retain. To keep it, an organization must make environmental management a high priority every day, among all its employees."
Hewes, who joined ecomaine in February this year, was once an accredited auditor for ISO 14001 certification, but never involved in any of ecomaine's certifications. "To initially earn accreditation is extremely demanding, said Hewes, "but it is the continuous scrutiny of environmental systems and controls that makes an ISO accreditation so meaningful."
First Hi-Tech in Maine
May 3, 2007 (Portland, ME). The future of recycling in Maine became the present when ecomaine Board Chair Linda Boudreau gave a simple thumbs-up to the driver of a front-end loader who dumped a random mixture of recyclable materials onto a conveyor belt. At that point, the $3.7 million single-sort system began to automatically separate it all by category: cardboard, newspaper, aluminum, steel, glass, #1 plastic, paper, and so on.
Though it is fascinating to watch, this is far more than just an exhibit of technological gizmos; single sort (also called "single stream") makes recycling easier, more economical, and more ecological. Boudreau explained that ecomaine, already Maine's largest recycler, "will be capable of processing more material per hour, that more people will recycle because no separation is required, that people who recycle will recycle more types of material, that trucks will make fewer trips to the recycling facility because compaction can be applied, and it also becomes economically feasible for more communities to offer curbside pick-up of recyclables."
ecomaine is a non-profit, municipally owned and operated organization, which, in addition to recycling, handles municipal solid waste disposal through its waste-to-energy plant and its ashfill/landfill site. General Manager Kevin Roche said, "Our 21 owner-municipalities have clearly made ecologically safe disposal of waste their number one priority and we are very proud to add single sort recycling to our list of accomplishments in that regard. They have set high environmental standards for operation and, when necessary, are willing to pay a premium." Though not owners, seven more municipalities are served by ecomaine as associate members through long-term contracts.
Last year the recycling facility processed 24,000 tons of material and expects that volume to increase as people learn that maintaining separate containers for cardboard, plastic, paper, metal, and glass is no longer needed. Troy Moon, an ecomaine board member representing Portland and chair of the organization's recycling committee, noted that "the State Planning Office's goal is to reach a statewide recycling rate of 50 percent and that is our immediate goal, too. We all want to get there and, then, go on and do even more."
For each of the past two fiscal years (July 1-June 30), Boudreau said that the recycling operation made a surplus of $500,000-$600,000, which has been used to offset some of the other costs of the operating ecomaine. "Now, with the single-sort system running, we can process bigger volumes and," she added, "include more towns who want to reduce the tons of trash they pay disposal fees for by removing as many recyclable items as possible." ecomaine takes recyclable materials free of charge, but charges by the ton to dispose of trash.
The various recyclable materials separated by ecomaine are baled (except for the glass, which is crushed) and sold to manufacturers in Maine, Canada, and elsewhere as raw material for new products. Moon cited the Huhtamaki plant in Waterville as an example: Huhtamaki buys large percentage of what is called "# 8 newspaper" from ecomaine to make disposable carry-out trays for cold drinks and wrapped food items. "To be designated as #8 newspaper, the bales must not be contaminated with other types of material or even other types of paper," said Moon. "The new equipment will make it easier to manage quality control in our processing, which is an important factor in obtaining the best price for us," he explained.
"Large volume is the other important factor in earning a surplus," said Moon, who is also the solid waste disposal manager for the City of Portland. "An individual community - even one of Portland's size - cannot make a real profit recycling if a full-accounting method is used to reflect true costs of operation. That's why Portland chose a regional approach with ecomaine and that's why the entire board of directors voted for the installation of hi-tech equipment."
More information about the new single-sort system can be found on the organization's website: ecomaine.org.
March 14, 2007
On March 5, ecomaine, formerly Regional Waste Systems, began fueling its heavy equipment with a biodiesel mix bought through the City of Portland from Frontier Energy of China, Maine. The equipment includes an excavator, bulldozer, front-end loader, and three dump trucks, which are in use daily at the landfill/ashfill site, located in Scarborough and South Portland.
ecomaine, a non-profit, waste disposal organization owned and operated by 21 municipalities in Southern Maine, handles municipal solid waste for more than 20% of Maine's total population through its three facilities: recycling, waste-to-energy plant, and ashfill/landfill site.
Linda Boudreau, board chair and South Portland city councilor, said ecomaine will use about one thousand gallons of biodiesel per month, at a price that may fluctuate from slightly less than diesel to slightly more. She added that using biodiesel does not require any investment in conversion equipment. "We will be tracking equipment performance," noted Boudreau, "but we have every expectation that it will all run smoothly. In fact, we expect to introduce biodiesel to the remainder of our heavy equipment that's located in Portland at our waste-to-energy plant and recycling facility." That equipment, she said, includes three more front-end loaders and a snowplow truck, and will use an additional one thousand gallons per month."
February 27, 2007
Auburn native and Minot resident Steve Simard, of Minot, has been named Recycling Facilities Manager at ecomaine which, with more the 25,500 tons last year, is the state's largest recycling processor. In May 2007, ecomaine will also become Maine's first single-sort recycling operation.
Simard, an Auburn native and graduate of Edward Little High School, previously, was Operations Shift Supervisor at ecomaine's waste-to-energy plant in Portland.
ecomaine, a non-profit, waste disposal organization owned and operated by 21 municipalities in Southern Maine, handles municipal solid waste for more than 20% of Maine's total population through its three facilities: recycling, waste-to-energy plant, and ashfill/landfill site.
Simard has been with ecomaine for 13 years and is a Maine-licensed first class engineer and a certified American Society of Mechanical Engineers Qualified Resource Recovery Facility Chief Operator/Shift Supervisor. He also has a Bachelor of Science degree in marine engineering from Maine Maritime Academy and is currently working towards a Master of Business Administration degree from Norwich University.
With the introduction of state-of-the-art single-sort technology, ecomaine's goal is to raise the public's recycling percentages and, as a result, to lower the number of disposal tons.
Kevin H. Roche is General Manager and Linda R. Boudreau, a South Portland City councilor, is Chair of the Board.
February 26, 2007
Anne K. Hewes, Ph.D., has been hired by ecomaine, an ISO 14001 certified organization, as Environmental Manager and will be responsible for continuous improvement in environmental protection for its ashfill/landfill site, waste-to-energy plant, and recycling facility. ecomaine, formerly Regional Waste Systems, is a non-profit, waste disposal organization owned and operated by 21 municipalities in Southern Maine. It handles municipal solid waste for more than 20% of Maine's total population.
Hewes is a Cape Elizabeth native, as well as a current resident. She earned a B.A. in Geology from Skidmore College, M.S. in Environmental Science & Management from New Mexico Highlands University, and Ph.D. in Environmental Studies from Antioch New England Graduate School, with a dissertation focus of industrial ecology and the reuse of waste materials.
Hewes has over twenty years of work experience in the environmental field including work as a consultant with Harding ESE, F.M. Beck, Inc. and, as a Peaces Corps volunteer, she was a Project Geologist for the Geological Survey of Swaziland, Africa. She most recently was an Adjunct Professor of Environmental Science at the University of Southern Maine.
Kevin H. Roche is General Manager and Linda R. Boudreau, a South Portland City councilor, is Chair of the Board.
December 6, 2006
Portland, ME.ecomaine*, formerly Regional Waste Systems, has earned the Safety and Health Award for Public Employers (SHAPE) from the Maine Department of Labor. The lengthy process included comprehensive safety inspections of the waste-to-energy, recycling and landfill facilities, and consultations; with the award comes a one-year exemption from programmed State inspections.
Maine Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman said, "This award represents ecomaine's high standards and employee involvement in creating a safe workplace."
Smaller Towns Prepare to Reap Benefits, Too
A question posed to Hollis residents on this November's ballot asked residents to choose one of the following options regarding household trash and recycling collection:
With a population of just 4330, it would seem that residents might vote for the first or third option, but nearly 55% of the votes cast made curbside trash and mandatory recycling pick-up (ballot choice #2) the undisputed winner.
Municipalities with relatively large populations, such as Portland (64,000) and South Portland (24,000), have benefited from the obvious economy of scale when considering the cost of curbside recycling pick-up. However, providing that service in smaller communities, such as Hollis or even Scarborough (17,000), has usually been cost-prohibitive. The question is, What makes curbside recycling so attractive now?
A practical reason is provided by ecomaine, the non-profit municipally-owned solid waste disposal organization serving 28 communities in southern Maine. Linda Boudreau, South Portland City Councilor and ecomaine Board Chair, explained, "Communities pay by the ton to dispose of their municipal solid waste, so when the weight of recyclable material is removed from the waste stream, the cost goes down. And, statistics have repeatedly shown that the easier it is for residents to recycle, the more material they will recycle.it's just human nature. Taking recyclables to the end of your own driveway is obviously more convenient than making a special trip to the transfer station."
Chairman of the Hollis Recycling Committee Bob Fournier pointed to the wording of the Town's recent ballot to summarize the cost and benefit analysis. The cost of leaving the system as it was - curbside pick-up for trash only - was projected to rise from $456,030 to $630,000 in just five years (assuming10% increase per year, compounded). Cost for the current service is equally distributed in annual tax bills.
Switching to a pay-per-bag system (one free bag per week with each additional bag at $3.00 each), would cost the same as the current system after the Town reached a recycling rate of 50%.
According to Fournier, adopting the combination of curbside trash and recycling pick-up is projected to lower the cost per ton for trash disposal at ecomaine once the town reaches the threshold recycling rate of just 30%. The additional cost per household is estimated at $15 per year. The savings incurred from eliminating the use of "silver bullet" recycling containers is estimated to be $20,900. In addition, of course, is the benefit of easy recycling for residents.
The Town of Scarborough will add curbside recycling to its services beginning May 1, 2007, according to Town Manager Ron Owens. "That date was selected because it's the same day that ecomaine will open its new, single stream recycling facility." ecomaine's $3.7 million investment will allow towns to deliver all their recyclables together, without taking the time to separate materials into categories. "The faster collection time lowers the cost of labor and reduces idling time," he said. "In addition, the ability to mix all recyclables together means we can compact the materials as we collect them and that translates into fewer trips for each truck."
Boudreau noted that the practicality of curbside recycling began with ecomaine's decision to install state-of-art single stream technology, which, in turn, makes curbside service faster and easier; and, with that, the greater participation in recycling by residents, which means less trash and lower trash disposal costs. "It's a win-win-win situation," said Boudreau. "There is a reduction in the volume of trash, costs are lower over time, and the benefits to Maine's ecology are indisputable."
More Than 4.5 Million Pounds in August
ecomaine, a municipally-owned company, experienced their biggest recycling month since the facility began operation in 1991. This August, their member towns collected 4,570,300 pounds of recyclable plastic, glass, paper, cardboard, and metal. General Manager Kevin Roche explained that the August 2006 total beat the previous one-month record - set just eight months ago, in December 2005 - by more than 28 tons.
Roche pointed out that every pound of material recycled is one less pound in the waste stream and one less pound billed to local taxpayers. "The more our citizens recycle," he added, "the more efficient and cost-effective the operation becomes for our 27 participating communities."
Since June 2005, ecomaine has broken its own recycling record four times, which Roche attributes to an increasingly conscientious population and efforts by municipalities to make recycling as easy as possible. He suspects records will be broken even more frequently when ecomaine's state-of-the-art single stream equipment is operational in May of this year. The $3.7 million project will allow residents to throw all their recyclables together, without, for example, separating plastics from paper. "There are numerous environmental and fiscal advantages," said Roche, "only one of which is increased recycling rates due to the system's simplicity for residents."
ecomaine (formerly Regional Waste Systems) is the largest recycler in Maine, which allows its 21 owner-communities and six associate communities to benefit from economy of scale in both volume and operational costs. The ecomaine solid waste disposal and recycling services are open to any municipality or commercial organization - they need not be members. For further recycling information, call Missi Labbe at 773-1738.
Employees recycle everything from CDs to coffee grounds
Woodard & Curran, a Portland-based consulting, engineering and operations firm, has been chosen as grand winner of the eco-Excellence Award for recycling from ecomaine, formerly known as Regional Waste Systems. Al Curran, co-founder, CEO and Board Chairman, accepted the top award with Engineer Erik Osborn, of Portland, and Project Scientist Charlotte Perry, of Hollis. Curran, who is a resident of Gorham, said, "We are very honored to have our recycling program recognized by ecomaine."
The Recycling Committee of ecomaine, a non-profit waste-disposal company owned and operated by 21 municipalities, reviewed award entries from twelve communities before selecting Woodard & Curran as the overall winner. Linda Boudreau, chair of the Recycling Committee and, now board chair of ecomaine, said, "Committee members were especially impressed that Woodard & Curran's recycling efforts are fully integrated with work processes and that their program could be easily replicated elsewhere."
Boudreau explained that in addition to paper, plastic, glass, cardboard and metal separation, Woodard & Curran also recycles batteries and CDs, composts its coffee grinds, and is in the process of creating purchasing guidelines to reduce waste at its source. Used office supplies are donated to schools through Ruth's Renewable Resources in Scarborough and obsolete computer components are given away through freecycle.org. In an office of 160 people, all this - and more - is done by 18 volunteers, with coordination handled by one employee devoting just 1-2 hours per week to the effort. "Our employees' dedication to reducing our environmental impact has," said Curran, "made our recycling program the success that it is."
Curran explained that, "Environmental stewardship is part of our mission statement, which states that we will, 'at all times, hold protection of the environment in a regard to that of all other interests,' and this award validates that we are succeeding in achieving this objective."
ecomaine General Manager Kevin Roche visited Woodard & Curran's office to present the Portland eco-Excellence Award plaque to employees and the grand award - an Adirondack chair made of 100% recycled plastic.
The competition was open to individuals, groups, and businesses and all entries were judged on effectiveness and ease of replication. A winner was first named in each of the twelve communities that submitted entries and from those Woodard & Curran was selected as the grand winner.
All the entries have been compiled into a useful handbook and are available to the public at no charge by contacting email@example.com or by calling 207-773-1738.
South Portland City Councilor Linda Boudreau was elected Chair of ecomaine Board of Directors at the organization's recent annual meeting. ecomaine is the non-profit solid waste disposal company owned and operated by 21 area municipalities and, until June 30 of this year, was named Regional Waste Systems. She succeeds Jeffrey Jordan, former city manager of South Portland.
Boudreau will be chair of 29 board members, an annual budget of $25 million, and three major facilities - a 100,000 megawatt waste-to-energy plant, a 240 acre landfill/ashfill site, and the state's largest recycling facility. During her 2006-2007 tenure, ecomaine will install the equipment for single stream recycling technology with which, as former Recycling Committee Chair, she is very familiar. In addition, a new seven-acre landfill/ashfill cell built with state-of-the-art environmental protection will open and negotiations for the sale of electricity will also occur.
"It is," said Boudreau, "a time of very exciting and positive change for the organization." She described the ecomaine Board of Directors as being "unusually dedicated and fully involved."
Anthony Plante of Windham will be vice president, Duane Kline, of Portland will be treasurer, and Susan McGinty of Cumberland will be secretary; all three served in the same positions last year.
The 7,500 member Solid Waste Association of North America, SWANA, has selected ecomaine, formerly Regional Waste Systems, as winner of the 2006 Waste-To-Energy Silver Excellence Award. In the notification to General Manager Kevin Roche, dated June 26, SWANA's Technical Programs Coordinator, Catherine McCall, said, "All of the staff that worked on this facility should be very proud of these successful efforts in achieving the highest level of excellence in solid waste management. This is no small accomplishment given the excellent quality of this year's nominations and the challenges faced by many programs and operations in the solid waste industry." Specifically, McCall cited that, "While working with the award submissions this year, the judges and I were impressed by the renewal of its associate-member communities and re-upping of its contract. This only underscores the dedication that everyone involved with this nomination has had to the success of its facility."
ecomaine, located in Portland, is a non-profit solid waste disposal organization owned and operated by 21 Maine municipalities. The waste-to-energy facility burns non-recyclable household trash and, which in turn produces steam to create 100,000-110,000 megawatts of electricity. The organization also has a landfill/ashfill site and the state's largest recycling facility, soon to be offering single stream recycling to its members.
SWANA's award scoring criteria included ten categories, including, engineering, worker safety, public acceptance and appearance, performance, and innovation.
Affecting 20% of Maine's population
Portland, Maine.Regional Waste Systems, a non-profit waste disposal operation owned by 21 municipalities, changed its name to ecomaine and announced some of its future plans at today's annual meeting. U.S. Representative Tom Allen and outgoing Chairman Jeffrey Jordan, of South Portland, jointly unveiled the ecomaine logo and its accompanying tagline - "the future of regional waste systems." Linda Boudreau, of South Portland, was elected chair of the organization for the 2006-2007 fiscal year.
Congressman Tom Allen, the keynote speaker, praised ecomaine saying, "ecomaine can serve as a model for other regional waste facilities."
Jordan said that Representative Allen was an especially appropriate keynote speaker for the first ecomaine annual meeting because he was a member of the Regional Waste Systems board from 1990-1995, and because he currently serves on Congress's Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee. "Representative Allen's commitment to air quality and other environmental issues are values we share in common," added Jordan, "and, as a non-profit organization, we have been able to make environmental stewardship - rather than profit - our priority."
In a summary report of the 2005 -2006 fiscal year, the board announced that electric revenue from the waste-to-energy plant was $5.2 million, up 63 percent compared to last year. The dramatic increase came as a result of more competitive bidding among energy companies.
Boudreau, who has been chair of the board recycling committee, reported that recyclable tonnage was about 18 percent higher than last year and set a new record high of 24,400 tons for the organization. With the board's decision to invest in single stream recycling equipment, she said the board expects to receive even more recyclable tonnage once single stream recycling becomes available next spring.
Roche explained the board changed the name from Regional Waste Systems to ecomaine in order to reflect the organization's proven effectiveness in environmental management and its commitment to ecologically sound decisions. However, the name change was only one part of the new agreement signed by all owner-municipalities. It also eliminated a "sunset clause" contained in the original 1976 agreement that could have brought an end to the organization in only eight years, just as its major debt service is paid off in 2014. In addition, an executive committee of nine board members was created to streamline decision-making for specified tasks.
A Strong Recycling Message
Al Curran, founder, CEO and Board Chairman of the Portland-based engineering firm of Woodard & Curran, accepted the top award for best entrant in the new eco-Excellence Award for Recycling. The awards are open to individuals, groups, and businesses and a community winner was selected from each town that participated. Judging was based on effectiveness of the effort and ease of replication elsewhere. Entries have been assembled into a handbook and are being made available to the public, schools, and recycling committees at no cost.
The event was held under a tent on the wooded grounds of the waste-to-energy plant, which is located off outer Congress Street on Blueberry Road. Graphic displays showcased electric production, emissions controls and trash volume. Bales of various recyclable materials lined the entrance with signs identifying the content, weight and average market value for each. Immediately following the meeting, guests were invited to tour all three ecomaine facilities: waste-to-energy plant, recycling center, and landfill/ashfill.
The lunch was served on Chinet brand paper plates which are made in Maine and, in part, from ecomaine recycled paper. After use at the event, the used plates will be recycled (again) for other uses. The eco-Excellence prize given to Woodard & Curran was an Adirondack chair made from recycled plastic. Drinks came in recyclable aluminum cans (one bale of aluminum cans is worth about $892) or in clear plastic bottles (one bale of #1 plastic bottles is worth about $204). Linen tablecloths and napkins were used instead of disposable ones. The centerpieces were flowers planted in old coffee cans, each of which had been filled with a base of finely crushed glass and a top layer of soil, and then decorated with ribbon. And every guest was given a Frisbee made from recycled plastic .in a bag made from recycled milk jugs.
RWS Board Votes for State-of-the-Art Recycling Equipment
Portland, ME.After nearly two years of study, the 21owner-municipalities of Regional Waste Systems (RWS) have voted to bring single stream recycling to Maine. RWS Chairman Jeffrey Jordan, South Portland, said, "This is an investment in leading edge technology and the RWS facility will be the first in Maine." He expects the $3.7 million system to be complete and operational in the winter of 2007.
Linda Boudreau, chair of the RWS recycling committee that researched single stream technology, reviewed proposals and made the final recommendation to the board, noted that "Single stream technology eliminates the need to separate recyclables by category for collection, which has many ripple-effect benefits." Specifically, she cited increased participation in recycling, less employee time for curbside collection, less idling time (resulting in less pollution), and fewer trips by trucks to the RWS recycling center. Boudreau said, as a result, single stream technology is more beneficial to the environment and, also, increases efficiency for RWS communities, including their six associate members. "National statistics for communities with curbside pick-up show an average increase in efficiency of 20-30 percent," said Boudreau.
RWS General Manager Kevin Roche noted that tipping fees for trash will not increase for member communities and that funding will come from reserves and earnings from the sale of recyclables. Projected revenues (after expenses) are projected at $4.5 million over 15 years.
Having carefully examined four proposals, the board of directors voted last night [Thursday, May 18, 2006] to institute single stream recycling and awarded the contract to Van Dyk Baler Corporation, a Connecticut-based firm. "This generation of equipment is so advanced, "said Roche, "that it includes an optical sorter, which identifies #1 plastic and separates it from other plastics."
Roche said that two pilot projects were conducted to test some of the effects of single stream recycling. Working with the Portland Public Works Department, the Portland test showed a 24 percent reduction in time needed to complete recycling collection routes. In addition, Roche stated that turn-around time for trucks at the RWS facility was faster and was projected to save their member communities, in total, the annual equivalent of 30 eight-hour days. Another benefit was the ability to use compactor trucks instead of the trucks with separate bins. "Compactors carry more material than standard recycling trucks," said Roche, "so they can service more stops before having to empty their load."
The pilot single stream project for small towns was conducted in Lyman, population 3,909. Results showed the biggest benefit for Lyman, which does not have curbside pick-up, was the ability to use compaction to reduce the number of trips to the RWS recycling facility in Portland. Projections indicated a reduction in trips from 81 to 24 per year and, at a cost of $125 per trip, a potential annual savings of $7,125.
RWS, through its 21 owner-communities and six associate-member communities, serve about 20 percent of Maine's total population.
Accredited auditors of the International Organization (ISO) for Standardization have examined Regional Waste Systems' waste-to-energy and recycling facilities and have declared them in conformance with all provisions of the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System Standard. Regional Waste Systems (RWS,) a non-profit corporation owned and operated by 21 municipalities in southern Maine, serves 20 percent of the state's population.
The ISO, headquartered in Switzerland, sets voluntary but rigorous standards in many business categories; ISO 14001 is the worldwide standard for environmental management systems. In 2002, RWS was the first public waste management entity in the United States to achieve an ISO 14001 Certificate of Registration.
To determine on-going conformance of an organization's ISO 14001 Certificate of Registration, accredited auditors conduct on-site audits of the 18 required categories of environmental management. Mark Arienti, RWS Environmental Engineer, P.E., explained that "even after an organization is certified, it must pass additional detailed inspections for compliance once every six months." Following the third year, the whole process begins again. Arienti added, "An ISO certification is not something you earn once and then hang it [the certificate] on the wall - it requires continuous improvement and vigilance."
RWS earned its Certificate of Registration for the second time in March 2005 and, then, passed the six-month audit in September. In late April 2006, RWS received notification that it also passed the second six-month audit.
"To initially earn accreditation is extremely demanding, said Arienti, "but it is the continuous scrutiny of environmental systems and controls that makes an ISO accreditation so meaningful."
The state-of-the-art technology that eliminates the need to separate recyclables into categories has already proven its effectiveness in other parts of the country, but before it can come to Maine, it needed to be tested on a small, rural community. Regional Waste Systems' (RWS) Recycling Committee has been studying the applicability of "single stream" recycling for more than a year and created a pilot project for that purpose. The Town of Lyman, an RWS owner-community with a population of just 3,909, became the test-site.
It was already known from nationwide studies that larger communities with curbside pick-up service increased their recycling percentages almost automatically with single stream technology. These same studies also show an increase in collection and transportation efficiencies and corresponding reductions in costs, which were borne out by a pilot project conducted by the City of Portland last summer. The Portland trial period of six weeks identified a potential savings from improved collection efficiencies by 24 percent. The remaining question was this: Will people in small towns, who have to bring their own trash and recyclables to a transfer station, also benefit from single stream technology?
On December 13, 2005, people who arrived at the Lyman Transfer Station were instructed to throw all their recyclables in a single container, rather than into separate sections for plastic, paper, and metal. Instead of using the "silver bullet" container, all recyclables were thrown into one of the Town's compactors, and all trash was thrown into the other.
Linda Boudreau, RWS Director and Recycling Committee Chair, said, "The experiment continued through January 10, 2006 and, because of compaction alone, Lyman collected more than three times* the usual recycling load before having to pay for transport to the recycling facility in Portland. Therefore, there would be a reduction in the number of trips per year from 81 to 24 and, at a charge by haulers of $125.00 per trip, the Town could potentially save $7,125.00 annually."
A town with results similar to Lyman's could recoup the cost of its compactor in approximately 18 months.
The 21 owner-municipalities of Regional Waste Services (RWS) are considering an expenditure of about $2 million for "single sort" (also called "single stream") recycling equipment. Though that cost would be extravagant just to save residents the effort of separating plastic from paper, its impact could be much more significant to the environment and to the cost of operations.
RWS Chair and South Portland City Manager Jeffrey Jordan said, "In RWS's last fiscal year (2004-2005) our two-sort recycling center grossed $1.6 million dollars and, of that, $600,000 was surplus, which we then used to offset other operational costs." Statistics from around the country show that the ease of single sort greatly increases the tonnage of profitable recyclable materials collected from residents and, therefore, the opportunity to increase income.
Jordan explained that because the cost of necessary equipment could be close to $2 million, the RWS Board of Directors voted to draw-up a request-for-proposals in order to get a more refined estimate. "If the numbers are right," he added, "the equipment will pay for itself very quickly and will not require any additional monies from taxpayers." In fact, rather impressive savings could begin immediately for cities with curbside recycling.
This state-of-the-art technology that eliminates the need to separate recyclables by category has been available for several years and has already proved its effectiveness in other parts of the country. Should RWS decide to invest in single sort equipment, it would be the first in Maine.
Time is Money
To test the very encouraging statistics gathered from other locations, RWS and the City of Portland Public Works Department conducted of brief study of their own. Troy Moon, Portland Solid Waste Manager and RWS Board Member stated that, "Currently, Portland residents must separate their recyclable materials into two categories and place them side-by-side in a blue bin. Then the collectors pick up each bin and hand-sort the materials - again - into bins on the side of the truck before moving on to the next resident."
For the Portland pilot study, workers on one recycling collection route were instructed to stop separating materials at curbside and, instead, to dump all recycling materials together. The results showed a 24 percent reduction in time needed to complete the route, which translates into substantial savings in wages and in fuel spent while idling.
Moon added that because all recyclables are mixed, the City could make more use of compactor trucks. "Compactors carry more material than standard recycling body trucks, so they can serve more stops before having to dump," he explained. "Making this change could provide us with a variety of options including sharing service with neighboring communities, providing additional service to Portland residents or downsizing the fleet."
"The study also found savings in the turn-around time," said Moon. Today, each collection truck must unload recyclables in two separate RWS garage bays - one for paper and cardboard and the other for a combination of plastics, metal, and glass. The time saved by dumping all recyclables at the same site amounted to 1.8 minutes per truck for each trip to RWS. If several trucks were to make a total of 30 trips to RWS in a day, that would be an additional savings of 54 minutes per day and considerably lower fuel costs, as well. The annual time reduction would add up to 30 eight-hour days.
Moon said that the RWS study confirmed national reports, which show an increase in efficiency ranging between 20-30 percent, depending on the equipment.
Money from Sales
The $600,000 surplus earned by RWS in 2004-2005, however, came not from efficiencies in time, but from sales. As an example, Kevin Roche General Manager of RWS, said, "This October, homogenous bales of colored plastic sold for $600 per ton (up from $547 in November) and cost about $234 per ton for RWS to produce. But, the value of recyclable materials is market-driven and changes everyday according to supply and demand." Over the past five years, however, the market for recyclable materials has improved substantially.
As markets and technology have changed, so has the definition of "recyclable materials" and the instructions for sorting them. Single sort experience from around the country predicts a sizable increase in valuable recyclable tonnage from current residents simply because it is less trouble; all recyclables get thrown into the same bin.
The combination of savings for individual municipalities and surplus (profit) from sales by all the municipalities that own RWS is expected to be well worth the initial investment for the single sort equipment. "Obviously," Roche emphasized, "we won't be able to make that judgment until we receive responses to our request for proposals."
Jordan noted that the regional, non-profit approach to solid waste management and recycling has made it possible for the RWS member-communities to accomplish more and plan further ahead than any could have done individually. He said, "Regionalization has proven itself to be a practical solution for us over the last 30 years and will continue to serve us well over the next 30 years."
The environment has also benefited from regionalization. Because the owners-operators are the municipalities, the first concern is not profit; rather it is "to manage waste in the most economical and ecologically sound manner possible."
RWS is the largest recycling operation in Maine and the equipment currently being used is aging quickly. "The container line equipment is about 14 years old," said Jordan, "and it's likely to require a major investment or replacement in the near future."
Jordan explained, "There are other factors to consider, as well. There are notable differences among all 21 members. Some RWS communities have curbside pick-up for both household trash and recyclables, others have pick-up service for trash only, and many smaller communities require residents to take everything to a transfer station."
He explained that the RWS board members are carefully studying how single stream technology would affect smaller, rural members like Pownal, Hollis, and Waterboro, compared to the bigger municipalities of South Portland, Portland and Scarborough. "If some communities decide they won't benefit enough from the new technology while others decide they will, then there may be options available for participation. We've done some research on single sort and it appears to be quite promising, but we have much more to do before a decision can be made."