Recycling & Waste Minimization
The University of Southern Maine collects single stream recycling in all buildings and grounds of the three campuses. Learn all about our program here!
USM’s Waste Minimization Goals
- Reduce overall waste across all three campuses: Portland, Gorham and Lewiston
- Increase the amount and quality of single stream recyclables collected on all three campuses
- Discover new opportunities for waste reduction
- Develop innovative handling methods and new outlets for materials
- Build community, engagement, and awareness around issues related to waste
- Reduce throughput through responsible purchasing, use, and reuse of resources across all sectors of University operations.
For more information, read USM's Waste Minimization Policy.
Want to see what we've been up to from 2011 through 2014? Check out our Waste Minimization & Recycling Overview Report for a full explanation of all of our programs.
Links to Single Stream Recycling Info:
Other Waste Reduction Initiatives at USM:
- Tiny Trash - Office waste reduction
- Waste Liquid Recovery - don't send liquids to the incinerator!
- Mindful Move-out - Sustainable Residence Hall Spring Move-Out
- Waste fryer oil recycling
- Coffee grounds collection and on-campus recycling
- Waste Food Recovery
- List of internal recycling resources for on-campus waste such as printer cartridges, batteries, & phones
- Electronic Waste Collection Day
What goes into single stream recycling?
On the Portland and Gorham campuses of USM we collect single stream recycling so all recyclable materials go into one bin together. From campus the recyclables are taken to the EcoMaine recycling facility in Portland where they are sorted. All recyclable materials can go into any blue bin on campus.
Recyclable Materials include:
- Paper, paperboard, cardboard: Office paper, newspaper, paper envelopes, books & magazines, wrapping paper, cereal, pasta and frozen meal boxes, clean paper plates, paper cups, drink cartons, cardboard & pizza boxes
- Plastic: Any empty rigid container marked with a recycling triangle #1-7 such as frozen meal trays, cups, to-go containers, detergent & shampoo bottles. Plastic grocery sacks with handles marked #2 or #4 are also recyclable.
- Metal: Empty aluminum, tin & steel food cans, aluminum foil
- Glass: All colors of empty glass bottles & jars, lids removed
Non-Recyclable Materials that belong in the Trash:
- Napkins & paper towels
- Any styrofoam including cups, peanuts & packaging
- Plastic wrap
- Granola & candy bar wrappers
- Plastic bags, trash bags & potato chip bags
- Wax paper
- Disposable gloves
- Food scraps
- Styrofoam of any size and shape is not recyclable at USM, nor are most plastic bags except those from the grocery store (with handles) marked #2 or #4
- Please empty all containers before placing them in the recycling or trash - liquids cause spills and contamination. They are also heavy and therefore expensive to dispose of!
- Containers must be empty of liquids or food but do not have to be clean in order to be recycled.
- Returnable bottles and cans are recyclable but are collected separately in waste stations found in public areas around campus.
Signage, literature, and resources to view or print
- Check out the 'Recycling @ USM' signage here to learn what can go into single stream recycling! Find these easy-to-read signs above the blue bins all around campus for quick reference.
- View or print 'A Guide To Recycling @ USM', a handy brochure to answer any questions about recycling here at USM. If you plan to print it, remember to print double sided, and flip on the short side!
- Click here for EcoMaine's guide to what is and what is not recyclable. For questions or disposal of items in the 'Hazardous Waste' column, please contact the USM Office of Environmental Safety and Health at (207) 780-5406.
- EcoMaine has created a special guide for recycling plastics.
Where to find waste stations & what they look like
All buildings on the Portland and Gorham Campuses are equipped with blue recycling bins.
In hallways and public areas, you'll find the waste stations with circle openings for returnable bottles and cans (those marked with a ME deposit), saturn-shaped openings for Single Stream Recycling, and square openings for Trash. In classrooms, offices, and other smaller spaces you'll find blue deskside recycling bins as well as small trashcans. Residence Halls have communal bins on each hall or floor.
+ If you have a suggestion to help us make the new recycling program a success here at USM or would like to get involved, please contact us! Our goal is to have a blue recycling receptacle in every space on the Gorham, Portland, and Lewiston campuses. If you know of an office, classroom, or other space that needs a recycling bin please let us know.
Why do we recycle at USM?
Single Stream Recycling allows more materials to be captured than standard sorted recycling collection which just takes white paper, cardboard and some metals and plastics. Now many more kinds of materials can be repurposed. By diverting recyclables out of the trash stream, we are giving them a second life (items pictured below are all made from recycled materials!)
When we recycle, we create less waste. Creating less waste means less has to be hauled by trucks burning fossil fuels, less has to be burned or added to a landfill, and fewer raw materials need to be harvested and mined to make new things. Oh, and wasting less will make you feel great! If everyone recycled more and threw away less it would make a huge difference both here at USM and beyond.
If you are interested in work study or internship opportunities or would like to request support to integrate recycling and other sustainability initiatives into your curriculum, please contact us.
Where recycled materials go after they leave campus
USM's recycling is taken to EcoMaine in Portland. They have a state-of-the-art sorting facility that enables them to capture many more types of recyclable materials, sort them, bale them according to variety, and sell them to manufacturers to be turned into new products. Because EcoMaine is able to sell the materials as commodities, we are able to bring recycling there for free.
+ EcoMaine serves USM, the City of Portland, and 20 other municipalities so recycling at USM might be the same as recycling at your home. To see if your hometown recycles through Ecomaine, visit this list on their website of partner communities. To learn more about EcoMaine, their facility, and their recycling program, please visit their webpage.
YES: Plastic grocery sacks with handles are recyclable if marked with a #2 or #4. Other plastic bags are not recyclable at USM or in Portland. They are, however, reusable! Please reuse plastic bags whenever possible and bring your own bags or totes for shopping to limit the number of plastic bags in the system.
Internal Resources for Recycling and Responsible Disposal of:
- Cell Phones & All Batteries — Drop these off to be recycled at wooden recycling kiosks in the lobby of all three libraries: Glickman,Bailey, and LAC
- Printer Ink & Toner Cartridges — drop these off to be recycled at wooden recycling kiosks in the lobby of all three libraries: Glickman, Bailey, and LAC
- Fluorescent, CFL, Halogen, or LED Light Bulbs — FacilitiesManagement collects these and other universal waste upon request: (207) 780-4658. If you break a flourescent lamp you should first air out and evacuate the area for 30 mins. For full instructions, check out the EPA's Guide to cleaning up a broken CFL.
- Oil-based paint, lab waste, chemicals, biomedical or other hazardous waste —To ensure safe and environmentally friendly disposal call the Environmental Health and Safety Office: (207) 780-5406 or fill out the appropriate form here to request a pick-up.
- Office Supplies - Call USM Recycles ((207) 780-4658) to donate these to our Free Shelves or contact our Surplus Store to offer at bargain prices to the public. Visit the Free Shelves in the Portland Library AAA Cafe, the Gorham Library Lobby, or outside of the Surplus Store in the lower level of the Sullivan Gym on Portland's campus for reused treasures!
- Large Volumes of Books, clothing, or other recyclable or reusable materials - Please call Steve Sweeney at USM Recycles to coordinate the handling, removal, and recycling of these materials: (207) 780-4658