ecomaine manages solid waste for its member communities through an integrated strategy that includes a single sort recycling center, a waste-to-energy (WTE) power plant and a 250 acre landfill for residual ash. The public organization has over 40 member communities in Maine which equates to over 24% of the State’s population. Established as a non-profit in the 1970’s with a mission to address trash disposal for future generations, a comprehensive waste system has emerged. The method of balefilling municipal solid waste (MSW) was replaced by a state-of-the-art WTE facility in 1988 and the multiple-sort recycling system was upgraded to a single-sort advanced system in 2007. Roughly 170,000 tons of MSW are processed through the WTE facility each year. This results in an average of 83,000–105,000 megawatt-hours of electricity generated annually. Since 2005, recycling tonnage has increased 71% from 21,000 to 36,000 tons. The State of Maine established a “Solid Waste Management Hierarchy” in 2007 cascading in disposal preference from Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Compost, Waste-to-Energy to Landfilling MSW. ecomaine is researching the feasibility of implementing an organics recovery system that would include food waste to further advance the Solid Waste Hierarchy and State’s recycling goal of 50%. ecomaine continues to manage its resources through innovation that highlight the resiliency of an integrated waste management system. For example, ecomaine has adapted to periods of waste shortages through strategies of caching MSW during times of higher waste generation and storing that waste until it is needed. ecomaine selects cover material for temporary use that is combustible so that it can efficiently be processed through the WTE facility. When fuel is scarce, the cached material is returned to the WTE as a fuel input. Another example, of matching a waste to a beneficial reuse is ecomaine’s ash metals mining project for the recovery of both ferrous metals and valuable non-ferrous material from screened ash. ecomaine strives to sustainably treat residual waste streams after enhanced resource recovery, re-use and recycling efforts and embrace an integrated waste management system. While challenges face many waste disposal operations such as changing regulations, ecomaine communities believe an integrated system with a good design and forward-looking plant management allow for a robust and effective service, as the ecomaine example shows.

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