By Bethany Bray
---- — SALEM — Mandatory recycling will begin with a gentle start in Salem.
The city’s new ordinance requiring residents to recycle takes effect July 1. No fines will be issued in the first three months as the city launches a campaign to explain the new policy.
The city’s trash hauler will begin leaving stickers on resident trash bins, and a newly hired recycling coordinator will be leaving door hangers explaining the policy, said Julie Rose, business manager in the city’s engineering department.
Salem resident Jeff Cohen was hired this week as recycling coordinator, a position created to educate residents about the new policy, encourage and track resident recycling and, ultimately, issue fines.
The policy, meant to save the city money on trash disposal, will have an extensive grace period but will ultimately mean a $25 fine to residents who repeatedly fail to put recycling on the curb. The ordinance was adopted by Salem’s City Council in May.
“It’s a great opportunity for the city to reduce solid waste and save the taxpayers a considerable amount of money,” Rose said. “It’s a great opportunity to help people do the right thing.”
Adoption of mandatory recycling qualified the city for a $50,000 state grant, some of which will be used to pay the recycling coordinator. The grant must be matched 25 percent by the city, said Rose, which will be funded by the city’s trash budget.
Four people applied for the recycling coordinator position, said Rose.
Cohen, a longtime city resident and UMass grad, is a landlord and his wife owns a business in town — all of which means he has a working knowledge of the city’s population and existing recycling programs, said Rose.
Cohen starts work Monday, Rose said. Through the first three months, he’ll work on assessing Salem’s current rates and patterns of recycling and educating residents about the new policy.
After the three-month grace period is up — in October — Cohen will begin tracking recycling and issuing fines.
Under the new policy, the recycling coordinator will leave door hangers, call the household and send letters explaining the policy if a resident does not put recycling out to the curb on trash pickup day. A $25 fine will be issued only if a resident fails to put out recycling for eight consecutive weeks, despite the coordinator’s repeated letters and calls.
Fines can be waived if a household appeals and begins recycling within 21 days after the fine is issued.
Several drafts of the mandatory recycling policy were discussed and revised by councilors through March and April. Councilors removed language that would have asked the city’s trash hauler not to collect trash from addresses that didn’t put out a recycling bin with their trash barrels. As adopted, all residents’ trash will be collected regardless of whether they recycle.
Bethany Bray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.