Town Food Waste Program
Changes to Scarborough’s Food Waste Program
The Town of Scarborough has made recent changes to the town’s food waste program, as of July 1. Please be aware that household food waste (compost) drop-off locations have been streamlined to the Scarborough Public Works facility on 20 Washington Ave (behind the Holy Donut). The Pleasant Hill Road food waste drop-off location is no longer in use, but the Town hopes to be able to return to two food waste collection locations in the future.
Limiting the food waste drop-off location to a centralized location came as a result of budget cuts in the Fiscal Year 2022 budget review process. “Upon review, we realized that year on year, the cost of the food waste program was dramatically increasing,” says Public Works Director Mike Shaw. The $140.00 cost per ton for the program compares to $73.50 per ton for municipal solid waste, which is converted into electricity through the waste to energy (WTE) process at ecomaine’s facility. “Food waste is better used as compost, but the economics have to work for it to make sense.”
Scarborough began its food waste program in 2017 to reduce the amount of food scraps in the Town’s waste stream. Since recently identifying the significant increase in costs from the food waste drop off program, Sustainability Coordinator Jami Fitch prioritized finding a solution that would continue to serve the community and the Town’s sustainability efforts, while also staying within a reasonable budget. Through her efforts, Public Works was able to implement a food waste drop off program that is about 65% less expensive than the previous program.
The drop-off station at Public Works is now in partnership with We Compost It, a southern Maine-based composting service that converts residential food waste into high quality compost. When it was determined that program expenses only allowed for one centralized location, Public Works was chosen as the single site due to its proximity with other services in town. “The thought behind the current location at Public Works is that many residents travel to Oak Hill on a weekly basis for various reasons,” explained Shaw. “For example, if you’re doing your grocery shopping at Hannaford Supermarket, from there it is 1.7 miles to the Public Works facility where the food waste drop-off is located.”
In contracting with the new compost service provider, there are also changes to what can go in the bins. The material collected by We Compost It will be composted (it previously underwent a process called anaerobic digestion), so anything placed in the food waste bins must be able to decompose (used cooking oil, plastic bags, and packaging cannot go in the bins). Be sure to refer to signage at the site with any questions, and think of the phrase, “If it grows, it goes!” to help remember what can be disposed of with We Compost It.
The Town of Scarborough is continuing to look for cost effective solutions for food waste drop off. “We understand that our community wants to lead a sustainable lifestyle, and we want to encourage that behavior through Town services,” says Fitch. “We will continue to assess the food waste program and make improvements that balance sustainability goals, convenience, and cost effectiveness.”
The Town also encourages residents with yards to compost their food scraps at home. Scarborough Public Works has a variety of backyard compost bins available for purchase. Contact Public Works at (207) 730-4400 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about the backyard compost bins. Instructions for composting at home are available on Scarborough’s website at www.scarboroughmaine.org/backyard-compost. Composting food scraps makes nutrient-rich soil that is great for vegetables, flowers, and lawns.
For questions regarding the Town’s food waste program and other sustainability efforts, contact Jami Fitch, Sustainability Coordinator, at email@example.com or (207) 730-4035.
About the Partnership
Scarborough has a new partnership with We Compost It!, a composting service based in Southern Maine. Please be aware: A significant change that comes with this is that our food waste drop-off location at Pine Tree Waste on Pleasant Hill Rd will no longer be available as of July 1. The drop off location at Scarborough Public Works (20 Washington Ave, behind the Holy Donut) will remain in use.
Due to the change in compost service provider, there are some changes to what can go into the food waste bins. The following items are no longer acceptable:
- Used cooking oil
- Plastic bags
See the photo below for a list of what can go into the bins.
Prior to our partnership with We Compost It, the Town’s food waste was taken to ecomaine and disposed of through a process called anaerobic digestion, which converts food waste into electricity, fertilizer, and animal bedding. Plastic bags and packaging were able to be separated from the food waste as part of this process. The material collected by We Compost It will be composted, so anything placed in our food waste bins must be able to decompose. Think of the phrase, “If it grows, it goes!” to help remember what can be disposed of with We Compost It.
The Town of Scarborough started its food waste program in 2017 to reduce the amount of food scraps in the waste stream. Removing kitchen scraps from our trash reduces waste hauling and disposal costs, because food scraps are HEAVY! Plus, food scraps are a valuable resource, whether they go through anaerobic digestion or are composted. The Town is pleased to be able to continue our food waste program and hope all residents will take advantage of it.