I was grocery shopping on Sunday and was greeted by members of the South Portland High School Earth Club who were handing out information and free food waste bins to South Portland residents.

The S.P.H.S. Earth Club worked with Lucy Perkins, South Portland's Sustainability Coordinator on this project that aims to keep food waste from landfills and put it to work as a renewable energy source to help Mainers and our dairy farmers.

We are all down with the three Rs by now, let's take it to the next level. For those of us who don't have the space or ambition to work a compost pile of our own, the city will now do it for us. That's cool with me because the guilt is real when I have to throw away food.

The other thing is that the city has to pay a waste processing fee for all of the food scraps that end up in the waste stream. The City of South Portland will save $15 off the $70.50 per ton fee, that adds up. Not only are you throwing away that banana peel and leftover take-out, you're throwing away money as well.

There are 1 gallon and 12 gallon bins. The 1 gallon bin for kitchen scraps is cute, closes snuggly and can be lined with a regular grocery bag. When that bag is full, tie it off at the top and drop it into the larger 12 gallon curbside bin that you then take to one of the designated locations in So.Po.


The happy green counter bucket even lists what you can add to it and what you can't, making it easy for the kids to use too.

Here's how the process works:

  • Line the bin with an old grocery bag or plastic bag.
  • Deposit leftover food and food scraps into the 1 gallon container and then empty those into the larger 12 gallon curbside container.
  • Bring the larger container to one of the 5 drop off points.
  • Ecomaine consolidates the food scraps after removing the packaging, which is then burned for energy.
  • Stonyvale Dairy Farm in Exeter, Maine receives the loads from Ecomaine that are then mixed with manure and used to create fertilizer for the farm.

I was really impressed by how motivated and informative these South Portland High School students were.

South Portland residents can get more information at ecomaine.com.

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