History of the South Portland food waste program

The mission of the South Portland Sustainability Office is to guide the development of policies and practices that simultaneously promote economic well-being, strong community connections, and a healthy environment. One of the ways South Portland is working toward this mission is through programs designed to reduce waste and improve recycling.

The South Portland Sustainability Office is looking for two Neighborhood Champions to help establish food waste drop-off sites in the West End. Courtesy image

Currently, the most effective way to reach these goals is to divert food scraps from household trash. This is because up to 33 percent of all household waste consists of food scraps. Rather than going down the disposal or being sent to a landfill, this food waste can be converted to compost or used to produce sustainable electricity. Therefore, the sustainability office has set a target of reducing food waste in South Portland’s trash stream 70 percent by 2030.

The city launched its first food waste recycling program in February 2017 as a curbside collection pilot in the Knightville and Meetinghouse Hill neighborhoods. More than 60 percent of eligible households participated in the pilot at least once over the course of the year, diverting over 100,000 pounds of food scraps from the waste stream.

The success of this pilot led the city to launch a city-wide food waste recycling drop-off program in which residents can collect food waste in free city bins and bring the waste to any of the designated disposal sites. Currently, there are five designated sites around the city at the following locations: Transfer station, city hall, golf course maintenance building, planning and development office and South Portland High School. The program also originally included a drop-off site near Redbank Village, but the site was removed due to construction.

This spring, the city is expanding the food waste program by installing 1-2 new designated food waste drop-off site(s) in the West End at the Redbank Community Center and potentially in Brick Hill.

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Neighborhood Champions job posting

The sustainability office is looking for two Neighborhood Champions to play a central role in establishing these food waste drop-off sites in the West End. Personal outreach and education is a key strategy toward building community awareness and encouraging a change in recycling practices. Outreach conducted by the Neighborhood Champions in the West End will help us achieve this and also help inform the development of future city-wide initiatives as South Portland works toward its waste reduction goals.

The sustainability office is looking for two motivated Neighborhood Champions to lead this outreach and education program. This is a paid position. No experience is necessary. The sustainability office will provide any resources and training necessary to carry out this work. Residents of or community members with close ties to the West End and speakers of French, Spanish, Portuguese, and/or Arabic are encouraged to apply. Neighborhood Champions are expected to work 6 to 8 hours per week from April through September.

Applications are due on or before Friday, Feb. 18 at 4 p.m. To apply, email a cover letter and resume to [email protected] To view the full position description, visit the city of South Portland’s Job Openings page at www.southportland.org/departments/human-resources/job-opportunities/. If you have any questions about the position, contact Julie Rosenbach, sustainability director, at [email protected]

Our Sustainable City is a recurring column intended to provide residents with news and information about sustainability initiatives in South Portland. Follow the sustainability office on Instagram and Facebook @soposustainability.

Casey Zorn is sustainability program manager for South Portland. She can be reached at 207-347-4147 or [email protected]

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