Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Reducing the amount of materials we buy and use, reusing items, and recycling products and packaging, are all actions that significantly reduce our environmental impacts and help us achieve a “circular economy”. By reducing, reusing, and recycling, we:
- decrease air and water pollution from waste disposal;
- conserve materials for continuous reuse in making new products;
- reduce demand for mining and extraction of virgin materials; and
- reduce the amount of energy used to make new products.
Use the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Waste Reduction Model (WARM) to measure the environmental benefits of the waste reduction and recycling efforts of your municipality or business.
Since 1989, it has been the official goal of the State of Maine to reach a recycling rate of 50% of our municipal solid waste generated. The most recent numbers (for 2016) show Maine’s municipal solid waste recycling rate is at 36.79%. To help us reach our statewide recycling goal, the Maine DEP provides technical and educational assistance to residents, municipalities, schools, and businesses to help increase the amount of resources that are recovered from the waste stream. DEP also collects, synthesizes, and reports data on solid waste management in Maine.
Closing the Loop
Did you know that each arrow in the recycling symbol represent an important step in the recycling process? The first arrow starts with you – it represents community participation as residents bring their recyclable items to the transfer station or put them in a curbside bin for pickup. The next arrow represents the process of recycling these materials into new, usable goods. The last arrow is the one that closes the loop – that’s when items made from recycled goods are put to use. You can help “close the loop” by buying products made from recycled materials.
Learn more about reducing, reusing, and repairing:
Waste costs us time, materials, energy, and money, and can negatively impact the environment. These documents provide information on tools and resources that can help individuals, families, offices, schools, shops, restaurants, hotels and other businesses and organizations reduce waste and save money. Use the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Waste Reduction Model (WARM) to measure the environmental benefits of the waste reduction and recycling efforts of your municipality or business.
- Sustainability Resources for Individuals and Households
- Sustainability Resources for Schools, Colleges and Universities
- Sustainability Resources for Municipal and Regional Governments
- Sustainability Resources for Businesses and Organizations
Learn more about recycling in Maine
Help ME Recycle is a map-based guide to find recycling locations for electronics, fluorescent lamps and mercury thermostats. Search by municipality to find the phone number and website for your local solid waste facility; contact them to learn more about recycling other materials like paper, cardboard, plastic, metals and glass.
- Batteries - rechargeable and single-use household batteries
- Cell Phones
- Electronics - includes TVs, monitors, computers and peripherals, etc.
- Fluorescent light bulbs and other mercury-added lamps
- Household Hazardous Waste - information on where to recycle or safely dispose of household hazardous waste.
- Motor Vehicles
- Municipal Collection Sites - Alphabetical listing by town of municipal collection sites for electronic waste and mercury-added products (MS Excel format) (pdf format)
- Used Motor Oil - When you change your oil, you may bring it to one of the location listed in the directory.
- Paint - Learn about the PaintCare program and free recycling locations near you.
- Plastic bags and plastic film
- Propane Tanks
- Smoke Detectors – Federal law requires manufacturers to take back smoke detectors that contain a radioactive source. This N.H. Department of Environmental Services Fact Sheet includes a listing of brands and information for returning smoke detectors to the manufacturers. (Off-Site, PDF)
- Thermostats - for thermostats that contain mercury
Other Related Links (Off Site)
Maine Resource Recovery Association assists with marketing of recyclable and reusable materials, promotes market development of recyclables, and fosters professional practices To further the development of recycling and other forms of resource recovery as cost-effective components of environmentally sound solid waste management in Maine communities.
Northeast Recycling Council (NERC) - NERC's mission is to advance an environmentally sustainable economy by promoting source and toxicity reduction, recycling, and the purchasing of environmentally preferable products and services.
US EPA Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - Information, resources and educational materials available on ways to prevent waste and recapture material resources.
For more information, contact Carole Cifrino at 207-486-8160