SCARBOROUGH — Scarborough is unlikely to expand a pilot food waste collection program based on preliminary results, while South Portland continues to test a similar program that has been well-received by its residents, officials say.

Residential pickup service will be discontinued in Scarborough after its test program wrapped up earlier this month, but food waste will continue to be collected at several drop-off locations, Sustainability Coordinator Kerry Strout Grantham said.

Scarborough and South Portland each launched food waste disposal programs in May. Pickups continue in South Portland, where a yearlong pilot program is being conducted.

Each municipality picked up food waste at no cost to residents and provided drop-off locations for neighborhoods not included in the pilot pickup programs. The waste was taken to ecomaine, where it was weighed for tipping fees and study purposes, then delivered to Exeter Agri-Energy in Exeter and combined with cow manure in an anaerobic digester. The machine converts the matter into electricity, as well as a liquid byproduct for fertilizer and a solid material for animal bedding or compost.

But the programs differed in the way they were administered.

About 150 residents in the Pleasant Hill neighborhood received weekly pickup but had trash and recycling picked up on alternating weeks by Pine Tree Waste.

Grantham said the program wrapped up on Sept. 7 and the office is in “data analysis mode.” She said she will be presenting the results to the Town Council after the results have been finalized.

The town conducted a survey prior to the pilot project and at its conclusion, and preliminary data showed that many residents disliked alternating between trash and recycling.

“Some residents relayed that they found the process burdensome,” Grantham said. “What we modeled in the Pleasant Hill neighborhood will not likely roll out townwide, but they are thinking of other ways to divert (food waste).”

According to early figures, the town diverted more than 17,000 pounds of food from its garbage. Grantham said the town was hoping to divert 1 ton of food waste per week, but on average saw three-quarters of a ton each week.

The town pays average tipping fees of $70.50 per ton for municipal solid waste disposal and only $55 per ton for food.

“It is savings over time that can offset our increasing municipal disposal fees,” Grantham said.

Grantham said that over the life of the pilot program the town saw a large increase in residents dropping off food waste at three drop-off locations set up in the town that residents can still visit: Pine Tree Waste at 87 Pleasant Hill Road, Maine Veterans’ Home at 290 U.S. Route 1 and Wal-Mart at 500 Gallery Blvd.

Meanwhile, in South Portland, nearly 600 households are still being served by a one-year pilot program that includes parts of the Knightville and Meetinghouse Hill neighborhoods. Residents in the pilot program place a 6-gallon bin of food waste alongside their trash and recycling bins for weekly pickup by Garbage to Garden.

Additional bins are set up at the transfer station on Highland Avenue for other residents who want to participate.

Julie Rosenbach, South Portland’s sustainability coordinator, said the program is going well.

“People are really excited about it. We haven’t had a negative response at all,” Rosenbach said. “People love it.”

She said she is working on some metrics and will present preliminary data to the City Council in the next month or two.

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