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Portland, Maine Rolls Out Recycling Carts with The Recycling Partnership

The City of Portland, Maine is known for stunning fall foliage, a thriving craft brewing industry, and as an all-around great place to live. By summer 2017 the City will make another smart investment to maintain its high quality of life: delivering recycling carts. The decision was made after careful consideration and extensive technical assistance from The Recycling Partnership, including economic modelling to weigh the monetary pros and cons of the investment. Already a community of strong recyclers with a robust pay-as-you-throw system in place, Portland ultimately chose to move forward with the roll out of 25,000 carts with the help of a grant, technical assistance, and educational resources from the Partnership.

“We knew this was something we wanted to deliver to our residents. Carts have so many benefits, from increased material recovery to reduced litter, which is very important in a coastal city like Portland,” said Portland City Manager Jon Jennings. “The Recycling Partnership was incredibly helpful in walking us through the economics of our decision, which were complex due to our existing pay-as-you-throw program. We eagerly await working with them on the roll out.”

The City of Portland is unique among the Partnership’s cart grant recipients because, while under a bin-based program, they have already implemented many complementary tools to drive the maximum recovery of recyclables.

“Part of our keen interest in Portland is testing how far carts can take a strong program that’s limited by the volume bottle neck created by bins,” explains Jeff Meyers, Vice President of Corporate Partnerships at the Partnership and creator of the economic model used in the project. “Portland was so thoughtful in their decision-making and is committed to a best in class program, we know this will be a great project.”

Another key factor at play in this recycling infrastructure improvement is jobs. “The additional recovery provided by carts directly translates into heightened job security for recycling collectors, processors, and end markets,” noted Laura Thompson, Director of Technical Marketing and Sustainable Development at Sappi North America and Chair of Recycling Works in Publishing (RWIP); RWIP is a member of The Recycling Partnership. “Sappi has more employees living in Maine than any other state, with them in mind we applaud Portland’s decision to move to carts. We are thrilled that our participation with The Recycling Partnership connects us directly with such forward-thinking local communities.”

Since the start of 2015, The Recycling Partnership has helped catalyze $21 million of new recycling infrastructure that positively impacts more than two million households. Over the coming months, The Partnership expects to complete placement of more than 300,000 additional carts. Further, the national group is leading the charge to fight contamination in the residential recycling stream, building, testing and sharing its quality-improvement model through on-the-ground programs and free online open source tools and resources.

“Every time we work in a community we learn just as much as we teach, and Portland is no different,” adds Meyers. “No doubt it takes a team to deliver tons.”

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