SALEM — Mandatory recycling could be coming to Salem.
The idea, supported by Mayor Kim Driscoll and the city’s recycling committee, has come up recently as the city is negotiating new contracts for trash and recycling pickup and disposal.
Erin Huggard, chairwoman of Salem Recycles, said it would be a “good change,” similar to when Salem limited trash barrels to 35 gallons or less a number of years ago.
“Mandatory recycling would be a great push for us. ... It would give us a chance to increase our recycling amount and decrease our waste tonnage,” Huggard said. “A lot of people might think this is some type of punishment. ... It didn’t take long for people to learn (to use 35-gallon trash bins). It took a short period of time for people to get used to the change.”
Mandating recycling would qualify the city for a $50,000 state grant. The money would be used to create a “recycling coordinator” position who would encourage and educate residents on recycling, said Julie Rose, the recycling committee’s business manager.
Other Massachusetts communities that have created such a position have seen a marked decrease in trash tonnage, Rose said. As opposed to trash, the city pays nothing to dispose of recyclables and takes in revenue for recycled paper.
Mandatory recycling would have to be approved by the City Council; Driscoll submitted a proposed city ordinance on Feb. 26, but the council has yet to discuss the issue.
As proposed, residents would be required to leave a recycling bin out with their trash. The change would have an extensive grace period, with the city notifying residents with fliers, website updates, notices on local cable television and other means.
“Our approach is not to be punitive,” Driscoll said. “The idea is to encourage people to find new ways (to recycle). ... I’m really trying to stress that it’s not punitive.”