Food Waste

What does food waste have to do with climate change?

Organic waste–and specifically food waste–has shown to be a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions globally. Based on statistics from a 2017 report by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), we can roughly estimate that Portland and South Portland dispose of over 8,000 tons of food per year, approximately 5,600 tons of which is edible.

Diverting food waste can take many forms–many of which not only reduce emissions, but also help to better feed our communities, create sustainable energy, fertilize our soils, and sequester carbon from the atmosphere. Maine has formally adopted the Food Recovery Hierarchy, which prioritizes actions to reduce food waste based on their community benefits. The hierarchy starts with reducing the volume of surplus food, followed by directing excess food to food-insecure people, feeding animals, composting food waste or converting it to fuel, and finally disposing of food waste as a last resort.

Want to Learn How to Reduce Your Food Waste? Click Below to Watch Our October 2021 Coffee and Climate and Hear from the UMaine Mitchell Center and Our Sustainability Offices!

City of Portland Food Waste Program

The City of Portland has partnered with Garbage to Garden as their official composting partner for residential curbside composting, as well as commercial services for the City schools, drop-off sites, and municipal buildings.   Visit the Portland Sustainability Office’s website to learn more. 

Option 1: Food Composting Drop-Off

Residents may bring their food waste to any one of the eight designated drop-off sites located around the City: This option is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. Simply collect your food scraps in an air-tight container at home, bring food scraps to any of the following drop-off locations, and empty into the provided bins.

  • North Street Community Garden (195 North St)
  • Boyd Street Community Garden (2 Boyd St)
  • Brentwood Farms Community Garden (178 Brentwood Street at the edge of Evergreen Cemetery)
  • Libbytown Community Garden (175 Douglass St)
  • Payson Park Community Garden (Drop-off located at 82 Front St)
  • Parkside, King Middle School (92 Deering Ave, in the back of the school near the Portland Fitzpatrick Stadium parking lot)
  • Reiche School (166 Brackett St, drop-off on the Clark St side)
  • Riverton Community Garden (Drop-off located at far end of the Gerald E. Talbot Community School parking lot)
  • Parks, Recreation, and Facilities (212 Canco Rd)

Option 2: Private Curbside Service

Portland residents may hire Garbage to Garden, Portland’s official composting partner, to collect your food scraps at the curb. Each week on your trash day, Garbage to Garden will empty your bucket, leaving you with a clean bucket and, if requested, a bag of finished compost. This service is $19/month, with opportunities to earn free service through their referral and volunteer programs. As of April 1, 2023, new sign ups in Portland will be eligible for a free 1-month trial (there is an $8 bucket fee). Contact Garbage to Garden at 207-332-0277 or

City of South Portland Food Waste Program

The City of South Portland will provide free bins to residents who wish to recycle their food scraps. To make it easy, you can line these bins with clear, clear-ish, or white plastic bags to contain your food scraps. To receive a bin, stop by the Municipal Services Facility at 929 Highland Ave (Mon-Fri 7:30 AM – 3 PM). Contact Denise at Public Works with questions at 767-7635. Bins are available while supplies last. Click here to read more about the South Portland Food Waste Recycling Program. 

Disposal Option 1: Drop-Off Sites

Residents may bring their food waste to any one of the five designated drop-off sites located around the city free of charge:

  • Transfer Station (929 Highland Ave. 8 AM – 3:30 PM, Monday-Saturday)
  • City Hall (25 Cottage Rd)
  • Golf Course Maintenance Building (221 Westbrook St)
  • Planning & Development Office (496 Ocean St)
  • South Portland High School (along Highland Ave)
  • Redbank Community Center (95 MacArthur Cir. W)

Disposal Option 2: Private Contracting with Garbage to Garden

South Portland residents may hire Garbage to Garden, a private food waste hauler, to empty your bin at your curb for a monthly fee. The City has negotiated a reduced rate for this service ($12/month starting April 15, 2022). Contact Garbage to Garden at 207-332-0277 or