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Changes Coming to the Town Recycling Program

posted Mar 29, 2019, 8:10 AM by Leona Oceania   [ updated Mar 29, 2019, 8:11 AM ]

We’ve been talking about recycling a lot these days, and for good reason – changes in recycling throughout the world are effecting us here in Maine. The biggest impact is to our town budget.

In January, ecomaine started charging municipalities when their recycling loads contained too much contamination, or too many non-recyclable items. That month alone Scarborough had 52 loads of recycling rejected and transferred to ecomaine’s waste to energy plant where it was burned to produce electricity. These 52 rejected loads resulted in the Town paying over $10,000 to dispose of our contaminated recycling.

Starting July 1, 2019, ecomaine will also start charging towns $35 per ton to drop off recyclable materials. (Currently there is no fee to dispose of clean recycling at ecomaine.) If loads are rejected because of too much contamination, that cost jumps to $73 per ton. With these changes at ecomaine, Public Works is projecting that their waste management budget will increase by more than $100,000 next year.

In an effort to reduce costs, the Town is planning some changes to our recycling program.

      1.  The Town will provide one silver bullet recycling drop off location.

To reduce costs and try to keep contamination at our silver bullets in check, we will no longer provide recycling drop off at Dunstan Corner starting May 1st. The silver bullets at the Veterans’ Home will remain the only recycling drop off location in Scarborough.

       2.  Curbside recycling carts will be inspected for contamination.

      To reduce curbside recycling contamination, we will pilot an outreach program on one of our trash routes this summer. Seasonal staff will be hired and trained to identify non-recyclable items. They will then follow one trash route for eight weeks, lifting lids on recycling carts to inspect them for non-recyclables. Carts will be tagged to indicate if they are clean, somewhat contaminated, or highly contaminated. Highly contaminated carts will not be picked up by our hauler. More information about this program will be provided soon.

With rising costs, many people are asking if recycling is still worth it. The answer is a resounding YES! If we are diligent and recycle only what is allowed, we will save money ($35 per ton to dispose of recycling versus $73 per ton to dispose of trash). Plus, recycling is still important for a clean, healthy environment.

 For more information about what can and cannot be recycled, check out ecomaine’s Recyclopedia at or download their Recyclopedia app. More information about the Town’s recycling and waste management program is available on the Town’s website: and click on the Scarborough Recycles icon in the left-hand menu.

- Jami Fitch, Sustainability Coordinator

Questions? Contact us at 207.730.4400 or