, Salem, MA

Local News

March 5, 2013

Mandatory recycling floated in Salem


The proposed ordinance would require residents to recycle items already mandated by the Department of Environmental Protection — glass, cardboard, bottles and cans, etc.

The issue is not linked to the city’s new trash and recycling contracts, which Driscoll sent to the City Council last week.

Councilors sent Driscoll’s three proposed contracts — for trash and recycling pickup, trash disposal, and processing recyclables — to be vetted in a yet-to-be-scheduled subcommittee meeting.

If passed, the new contracts would take effect July 1. The contracts do not carry any major changes to resident pickup or service, Driscoll said.

Driscoll negotiated the contracts after Salem went out to bid with the city of Beverly to explore joint trash collection this winter. The two cities opted to go it alone after the venture did not yield significant savings.

City Council approval is needed because the contracts extend beyond three years.

The city’s current contract, which uses one contractor to collect and dispose of waste, expires in June. Salem’s costs are budgeted at $2.74 million this year, an amount that includes both collection and disposal.

The new contracts separate the tasks and use different contractors to pick up and dispose of trash and recycling.

Driscoll estimated that the city will save $250,000 per year through the new contracts.

“There’s an opportunity for savings,” Driscoll said. “That’s the value of putting these things out to bid. It makes everyone sharpen their pencils.”

The city’s Recycling Committee, a volunteer, mayor-appointed group, was re-formed five years ago, Huggard said.

The committee receives a lot of questions from residents over recycling. Having the grant-funded recycling coordinator would ease confusion and also help keep recycling from being contaminated with nonrecyclable materials, Huggard said.

“We get a lot of resistance from people, in many ways,” Huggard said. “There’s always going to be resistance, but I think we need to try (mandatory recycling). ... We really have one goal, to help people (recycle) properly, and help people to do it at all. It’s beneficial to the city, all around.”

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