The city of Portland, Maine, will begin delivering recycling carts to its residents, with the goal of completing the project this summer, according to a news release from The Recycling Partnership, Falls Church, Virginia. The decision was made after the city received technical assistance from The Recycling Partnership, including economic modeling to weigh the pros and cons of the investment. Already a community of strong recyclers with a robust pay-as-you-throw system, according to The Recycling Partnership, Portland ultimately chose to move forward with the roll out of 25,000 carts with the help of a grant, technical assistance and educational resources from The Recycling Partnership.
“We knew this was something we wanted to deliver to our residents,” Portland City Manager Jon Jennings says. “Carts have so many benefits, from increased material recovery to reduced litter, which is very important in a coastal city like Portland.”
He adds, “The Recycling Partnership was incredibly helpful in walking us through the economics of our decision, which were complex due to our existing pay-as-you-throw program. We eagerly await working with them on the roll out.”
The Recycling Partnership says the city of Portland is unique among its cart grant recipients because, while under a bin-based program, it already has implemented many complementary tools to drive the maximum recovery of recyclables.
“Part of our keen interest in Portland is testing how far carts can take a strong program that’s limited by the volume bottle neck created by bins,” says Jeff Meyers, vice president of corporate partnerships at The Recycling Partnership and creator of the economic model used in the project. “Portland was so thoughtful in their decision-making and is committed to a best-in-class program, we know this will be a great project.”
Another key factor at play in this recycling infrastructure improvement is jobs, The Recycling Partnership says.
“The additional recovery provided by carts directly translates into heightened job security for recycling collectors, processors and end markets,” says Laura Thompson, director of technical marketing and sustainable development at Sappi North America, Boston, and chairwoman of Recycling Works in Publishing (RWIP). RWIP is a member of The Recycling Partnership. “Sappi has more employees living in Maine than any other state, with them in mind we applaud Portland’s decision to move to carts.”
She adds, “We are thrilled that our participation with The Recycling Partnership connects us directly with such forward-thinking local communities.”
Over the coming months, The Recycling Partnership says it expects to complete placement of more than 300,000 additional carts. Further, the national group is addressing contamination in the residential recycling stream, building, testing and sharing its quality-improvement model through on-the-ground programs and free online open-source tools and resources.
“Every time we work in a community, we learn just as much as we teach, and Portland is no different,” Meyers says. “No doubt it takes a team to deliver tons.”