What once started as a pilot program in the Meetinghouse Hill and Knightville neighborhoods has become a successful city-wide food waste recycling program. The program continues its growth this year with support from a DEP Waste Diversion Grant awarded to the city. This funding has supported a number of new and noteworthy additions to the program that improve and expand access for residents across the city:

1. Three high school students helped increase participation in the food waste recycling program this year. They first toured ecomaine to learn about the local waste stream. Equipped with this information, they set out into the community to distribute food waste bins and helpful information about the food waste recycling program. The city is incredibly thankful for their enthusiasm as we, collectively, work to reduce waste in South Portland through recycling and composting initiatives.

2. This winter, the city set up a drop-off site in the high school parking lot along Highland Avenue. The location quickly became popular, collecting the second highest volume of food scraps among available drop-off sites. In recent days, the city shifted the location of the site within the parking lot to the west, closer to the high school. If you frequent this location, do keep your eyes out for this change and know the bins are still there.

3. And just last week, the city established a sixth drop-off site at the Planning and Development office, located at 496 Ocean St. The Sustainability Office and partners chose this location in an effort to continue expanding the network of drop-off sites and to accommodate modified hours at the transfer station in recent months. Be sure to check it out and bring your food waste along the next time you head down either Sawyer Road or Ocean Street.

If you would like to participate in the food waste recycling program, here are a few important facts to get you started:

· The program is open to all residents of South Portland.

· You can pick up a 12-gallon, and/or 1-gallon, bin free of charge, at the Municipal Services facility at 929 Highland Ave. Call 232-9800, while the facility is closed to the public, to have the bin left outside for you.

· As a general rule of thumb, if it grows it goes (in the bin).

· It is OK to line bins with clear or white plastic bags to contain the food scraps and throw the plastic bags right into the big bin at the drop-off site.

· Residents may bring food waste to one of four drop-off sites free of charge or contract with Garbage to Garden to have their bins emptied curbside at a reduced rate.

Our Sustainable City is a recurring column in the Sentry intended to provide residents with news and information about sustainability initiatives in South Portland. The Sustainability Office is located on the first floor of city hall. Follow the Sustainability Office on Instagram and Facebook @soposustainability.

Lucy Perkins is sustainability program coordinator for South Portland. She can reached at [email protected]

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