Maine summer recycling program pays dividends
The small Maine towns of Harrison and Ogunquit realized
measurable increases in their municipal recycling percentage
rates and decreases in waste disposal costs this past
summer through a trial campaign specifically targeting
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 percent and
Ogunquit’s by 28.61 percent.
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 percent 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 percent
increase in recycling compared to last September and
Ogunquit increased 1 percent 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. Each of the two participating
towns were given 70 recycling bins, a supply of posters
and a several thousand 5” x 7” 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.