South Portland has a goal to reduce food waste in the trash stream 70% by 2030. Diverting food waste from the municipal solid waste stream is one of the most effective ways to achieve this goal because on average, up to a third of household waste consists of food scraps. Rather than going down the disposal or being sent to a landfill, this food waste can be converted to compost or be sent to an anaerobic digester to produce sustainable electricity.
Joining the program is easy, just follow these steps:
1. Get a Free Bin
Residents can pick up a free 1-gallon and/or 12-gallon bin from the City. Just stop by the Municipal Services Facility at 929 Highland Ave (Mon-Fri 7:30am to 3:00pm). Have questions? Contact Denise at Public Works at 207-767-7635.
12-gallon wheeled bin 1-gallon counter top bin
2. Dispose of your Food Waste
Residents have two options for disposal:
A) Drop-off Sites
Residents may bring their food waste to any one of the five designated drop-off sites located around the city free of charge:
- City Hall (25 Cottage Rd.)
- Golf Course Maintenance Building (221 Westbrook St.)
- Planning & Development Office (496 Ocean St.)
- South Portland High School Upper Parking Lot (Along Highland Ave.)
- Transfer Station (929 Highland Ave.)
B) Private Contracting with Garbage to Garden
Or you may hire Garbage to Garden, a private food waste hauler, to empty your bin at your curb for a monthly fee. The City has negotiated a reduced rate for this service ($12/month). Contact Garbage to Garden at 207-332-0277 or email@example.com.
As a general rule of thumb, if it grows it goes! To make it easy, you can line these bins with clear, clear-ish, or white plastic bags to contain your food scraps.
For more information, check out ecomaine's detailed list of items that can and cannot go into your food waste bin and videos for tips on how to handle your food waste.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How can I prevent my bin from getting messy with fruit flies and odors?
Clear plastic produce bags from the grocery store can be used to tie up your food waste before putting it into the bin. Exter Agri-Energy has a machine that separates food waste from plastic bags. You can also line the bin with newspaper before throwing in your food waste. Residents are responsible for cleaning their bin.
2. What if my bin is lost or damaged?
If you have a lost or damaged bin, contact Denise at Public Works at 207-767-7635 for a replacement.
3. I use an in-sink garbage disposal. Should I discontinue that?
Yes, we strongly recommend placing your food scraps in the bin rather than down the garbage disposal. There are higher uses for compost. Putting food waste into the City’s waste water system has environmental costs.
4. I already compost in my backyard. Should I discontinue that?
Not necessarily. You should feel free to continue composting in your backyard. Residents may use the food waste collection program to compost items that you cannot put in your backyard compost- such as liquids, fats, oils, greases, meat and fish scraps, paper napkins, compostable silverware, as well as coffee filters and tea bags. Food waste collection can also serve as a backup in the winter months.
5. I already have a private contract with Garbage to Garden. What should I do?
That is up to you! Once you have received your free food waste cart from the City, the choice is yours. You can elect to continue contracting with Garbage to Garden to haul your food waste and provide you compost. The City has negotiated a reduced rate. Otherwise, you can bring your food waste to any of the four collection sites at no cost. Or, if you like having your bin cleaned out every week by Garbage to Garden, you can keep paying for the full rate service (Note: the City's negotiated rate service with Garbage to Garden does not include this bin cleaning service).
6. How often will food waste at the drop-off locations be collected?
Carts located at the drop-off locations will be emptied weekly by Garbage to Garden. In summer months, carts will be emptied more frequently. Saw dust is available at drop-off sites to contain the smell and can be scooped into the bin after disposing of food waste. If you notice a full or smelly drop-off cart, please contact the Sustainability Office to coordinate a pick-up within 24 hours.
Food scraps collected atthe drop-off sites are first taken to ecomaine in Portland. Large consolidated loads of food scraps that accumulate at ecomaine are then transported to Stonyvale Dairy Farm in Exeter, Maine. At the farm, food scraps are mixed with cow manure in an anaerobic digester to create sustainable electricity, farm fertilizer, and animal bedding for dairy cows.
Click below for information on our city-wide food waste recycling program in French, Somali, and Portuguese.