PORTLAND — The ecomaine waste management company announced last week that its 43 communities set a record for recycling in the fiscal year ended June 30.

The performance continues a trend that started in 2003.

Spokeswoman Shelly Dunn said in a press release that ecomaine received more than 35,600 tons of recycling in the year, a 5.6 percent increase over the previous fiscal year.

June also set a monthly record with more than 3,200 tons of recycling, 73 tons more than the previous record set in August 2010.

Dunn said ecomaine has already seen a record fall in the new fiscal year, too. The single-day recycling record was broken July 5, when the company took in 210 tons of material.

Ecomaine Chairman Michael Bobinsky, who is Portland’s director of public services, attributed the record to the group’s “aggressive educational outreach” and simplified recycling program.

Dunn said educational outreach includes open houses, school or group tours of the plant at 64 Blueberry Lane, school presentations and community television public service announcements. Ecomaine also honors top recyclers with its annual awards.

Higher recycling rates are not only good for the environment, but for the budgets of the member municipalities, which by the ton to dispose of trash.

“If, instead, all those recycled tons had been left in with the trash, the bill for waste disposal would have been much higher for municipal taxpayers,” Bobinsky said.

In 2007, ecomaine instituted single-sort recycling, which leaves the task of separating metals from recyclable glass, paper, cardboard and plastic to a machine.

“We’ve gone up every year since 2003,” Dunn said. “The biggest jump came after (the introduction of) single-sort.”

Pownal was the top recycler in fiscal 2011, at 47 percent of its total waste. The town eclipsed North Yarmouth, which was the top recycler in 2010 at 44 percent.

Four municipalities – Cumberland, Falmouth, Hollis and Scarborough – saw their recycling rates drop by a percentage point or less. Dunn said that’s not surprising, since those communities generally are among the top recyclers in the area. 

Ecomaine is owned and operated by 21 municipalities, including Portland, South Portland, Scarborough, Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Cumberland, North Yarmouth, Yarmouth, Freeport and Pownal. It provides contract services to 22 other communities and a total population of 335,000 people.

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @randybillings

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