New recycling tonnage record set by ecomaine beats old mark by 28 percent

Kevin Roche, general manager of ecomaine, a recycling and trash-to-energy facility in Portland, stands in front of a bale of recyclable cardboard material in this April photo. (BDN file photo by Troy R. Bennett)

ecomaine — the Portland-based nonprofit recycling and waste-to-energy facility that serves a quarter of the state’s population and insists on stylizing its name to begin with a lowercase letter — recycled more material last month than it ever has before.

Workers at ecomaine sort recyclable materials at the plant in Portland. (BDN file photo by Troy R. Bennett)

The new local record for recycling is 4,322 tons of stuff like cardboard, newspapers, plastics and metals. Before the July 2013 tally, the previous high water mark for ecomaine was 3,375 tons, set in August 2012.

The new record is perhaps significant not only in that it pushed the bar ever higher, but also because it did so dramatically. The July 2013 number beat the previous record by almost 1,000 tons, representing more precisely a 28 percent increase over the August 2012 figure.

ecomaine General Manager Kevin Roche explains the July bump in the following statement, released Thursday:

The nature of the recycling business is regional, and a significant part of the increase we saw last month can be attributed to materials that were brought to ecomaine from outside our service area. Recycling facility operators in the northeast region know that when they reach capacity, more often than not we can help them handle the overflow because ecomaine employees are some of the best in the business. We get the job done.

Thursday’s organization announcement acknowledges that the overflow work, so-called “spot tonnage,” isn’t consistent and setting the record in July isn’t necessarily a sign that the facility is starting a trend that will set new monthly records every 30 days from hereon out.

But, the extra work does give ecomaine a chance to test its capacity and, the organization says, proves it can handle higher regular recycling rates locally (hint hint).

ecomaine is jointly owned by 21 southern Maine municipalities, and is planning an Oct. 5 open house event that will provide opportunities for locals to pick up free recycling bins and drop off old televisions and computers, among other hard-to-dispose-of electronic burdens.

Seth Koenig

About Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.