What does recycling have to do with climate change?

The EPA estimates that 75% of the American waste stream is recyclable, but we only recycle about 30% of it. While we should always consider reducing consumption and reusing materials first according to the Waste Hierarchy, recycling materials has a great impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions globally. Recycling reduces the amount of natural resources we consume, and on average requires less energy to create new products.

Recycling in Portland and South Portland

Solid waste collected in Portland and South Portland goes to the state-of-the-art ecomaine waste-to-energy plant, an incinerator which burns trash to produce electricity. The waste-to-energy plant not only prevents waste from going to a landfill, but also generates enough steam to create 100,000 megawatt-hours of electricity annually. Ecomaine has made recycling its top priority and runs the largest recycling facility in Maine — processing over 40,000 tons of single-sort material each year. In 2019, diversion rates for Portland and South Portland were 38% and 29% respectively.

City of Portland Recycling Webpage

City of South Portland Recycling Webpage

Take Action By Recycling

Check out the Coffee and Climate: Recycling Edition with guest speaker Katrina Venhuizen from ecomaine! 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is not allowed in the recycling cart?

Plastic bags, food waste, trash, textiles (no clothing/ no carpet/ no blankets), or yard waste. Check out ecomaine’s recycling Do’s and Don’ts to see the complete list. 

What is my recycling collection day?

Portland: Please visit the Trash and Recycling Collection Web App to find out what day of the week your trash and recycling is collected.

South Portland: Please refer to the list of collection days by street name. 

Why was my recycle cart missed?
  1. Contamination or unacceptable material may have been in the recycling cart. If contamination is present, the driver will leave an orange violation tag with a phone number to call if you have any questions. Please consult ecomaine’s website for more information about recyclable materials. 
  2. Another reason recycling may have been missed is because the recycle cart was set out after the truck already serviced your area. 
How do I repair or replace a recycle cart?

Portland: Contact the office during regular business hours 8:00am-4:30pm @ 207-756-8011 or email 

South Portland: To request a repair or replacement trash or recycling bin, please call Public Works at 207-767-7635. Recycle lids are also available for pickup at the Municipal Services office across from the Transfer Station if you would prefer to replace it yourself. 

What about unique items such as rechargable batteries, lightbulbs, and paint cans?

These items do not belong in your curbside recycling cart. They are uniquely recyclable through state take-back programs:

Rechargeable batteries

Electronics, Fluorescent Bulbs and Mercury Thermostats


What is “Wish-cycling”?

The process of throwing questionable items into the recycling cart, hoping they will be recycled. 

Where can I recycle plastic bags and film?

These items do not belong in your curbside recycling cart. Hannaford Supermarkets and Shaw’s will accept clean, dry bags and wrap with no food particles or contamination; grocery bags, newspaper or dry cleaning bags, plastic case wrap (around water bottles, snacks, toilet paper, napkins, diaper, etc.).