SOUTH PORTLAND — City councilors will hear a progress report Tuesday on the city’s climate action plan, including proposals to ban gasoline-powered lawn equipment and adopt a pay-as-you-throw trash collection program.

The city’s sustainability staff had scheduled a council workshop to discuss the proposals, but instead, Sustainability Director Julie Rosenbach will give a “refresher” on the One Climate Future plan and related council resolutions passed in 2018 and 2019 because the council has several new members, according to the meeting agenda.

The resolutions call for transitioning municipal operations to 100% clean energy by 2040; reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80% citywide by 2050; and “rapidly phasing out” the use of fossil fuels and technologies that rely on them.

City Manager Scott Morelli said the presentation will ensure “everyone has a better understanding of … why staff is spending time on certain items” and give councilors an opportunity to say whether the city should continue to pursue them.

Rolled out in 2020, One Climate Future is a joint plan with neighboring Portland that outlines steps to reduce the region’s carbon footprint. The city has made strides to increase sustainability in recent years, including a ban on foam food containers, an expanded municipal solar array and a recent requirement that new or rebuilt parking lots include spaces and infrastructure for vehicle charging stations.

Tuesday’s agenda packet doesn’t include a written proposal to ban gas-powered lawn equipment, though a draft of Rosenbach’s presentation states that a “blower/mower ban” is “in progress.” One Climate Future doesn’t mention such a ban, but it does call for powering “almost everything” with electricity, including cars, buses, ferries and building heating systems.


California has banned the sale of new gas-powered mowers and leaf blowers starting in 2024, under a zero-emissions law that would impact weed trimmers, chainsaws and other similar equipment. In recent weeks, legislators in Rhode Island and Minnesota have introduced similar proposals that drew opposition from manufacturers, dealers and landscapers.

Waste reduction strategies outlined in One Climate Future include adopting a pay-as-you-throw trash collection program similar to one in Portland, where residents buy trash bags that effectively set a unit price for residential solid waste and promote recycling, including through food waste collection programs.

A proposal for South Portland’s pay-as-you-throw program is “in progress” and should be implemented by 2026, according to the draft of Rosenbach’s presentation.

Adopted in 1999, Portland’s pay-as-you-throw program “has had a measurable impact on reducing municipal solid waste production from residential homes,” the climate plan states. To leave trash for weekly curbside pickup, Portland residents must use purple trash bags sold at area stores that cost $1.75 per 15-gallon bag or $3.50 per 30-gallon bag.

A study of Maine communities that send trash to the ecomaine incinerator in Portland found that cities and towns without pay-as-you-throw programs generated nearly twice as much trash per capita, the climate plan states. In 2017, Portland generated 268 pounds of residential trash per capita, while South Portland generated 491 pounds.

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