AUGUSTA — A University of Maine study says Maine is falling short of its goal of recycling at least 50 percent of the trash going to state landfills.

A recent survey of 17 communities concluded that as much as 60 percent of what’s thrown in the trash could have been either recycled or composted.

Graduate student Travis Blackmer told Maine Public Broadcasting Network that a team picked through bags of trash to categorize what was being thrown away. The study concluded that about 40 percent was waste, 40 percent could have been composted and 20 percent could have been recycled.

Brewer is one city, however, that’s been particularly successful. Formerly hovering near 40 to 45 like much of Maine, Brewer has boosted its recycling rate to about 53 percent by implementing both a zero-sort and pay-as-you-throw system, according to MPBN.

Zero-sort or single-stream recycling encourages recycling by relieving homeowners of the task of separating out their recyclables. Instead all of the recyclables are placed into one container and separated for reuse at a materials recovery facility.

“We’re very proud of that number, and we think that gradually increases as time goes forward,” says City Manager Steve Bost, according to MPBN.

 

 

 

 

Bost says Brewer has saved “substantial” money through the new system. The city has decreased the amount of residential trash going to the Penobscot Energy Recovery Company in nearby Orrington by more than half, from 3,000 tons to 1,400 tons.

The study, commissioned by the State Planning Office, aims to educate communities about the value of reducing waste by quantifying what’s being thrown away.