Recycling proves to be financially beneficial to municipalities in Maine

Because the people of Cape Elizabeth, Portland, Scarborough, and South Portland participated in recycling, their municipalities avoided paying a total sum of $1,039,632 in waste disposal costs over 12 months.

“Recycling makes a real difference to the bottom line,” said City of Portland’s director of Public Services Michael Bobinsky. He explained that, from July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011, the residents and businesses of Portland separated 5,358 tons of recyclable material from their trash and “since every ton of trash costs the City $88 for disposal, we avoided paying $471,504.” There is potential for even greater financial benefit if Portland’s 35 percent recycling rate grows.

Similar, proportional benefits were experienced in the smaller communities of Cape Elizabeth, which had a recycling rate of 33 percent and avoided costs of $111,056; Scarborough, with a recycling rate of 34 percent and avoided costs of $240,504; and South Portland, with a recycling rate of 28 percent and avoided costs of $216,568.

All four municipalities are owners of ecomaine, the nonprofit entity that handles both their disposal and recycling. Ecomaine’s general manager, Kevin Roche, noted that even a small increase in a community’s recycling percentage can yield significant financial benefits. With just a 2 percent increase, for example, South Portland would have saved an additional $4,331, Cape Elizabeth an additional $2,221, Scarborough an additional $4,810, and Portland an additional $9,430. “That’s why raising community awareness of recycling is so important,” said Roche. “We want everyone to understand that recycling is an advantage for their communities ecologically and economically, and that with single-sort technology, it couldn’t be easier to participate.”

Statistics for each of ecomaine’s 39 recycling communities are updated monthly and can be viewed at