BY PAUL LEIGHTON
---- — When it comes to trash collection, Salem and Beverly are hoping that one company is better than two.
Officials in the two cities announced yesterday that they are accepting proposals that could enable a single company to collect trash and recyclables in both communities.
The unusual move is designed to save money, although Beverly Mayor Bill Scanlon acknowledged that nobody is sure yet if that will happen.
“That’s the premise. That’s the hope,” he said. “We don’t know what we’re going to get, but we’re interested in seeing what we’re going to get.”
Trash in Salem is currently collected by Northside Carting of North Andover, while Beverly’s is picked up by JRM Hauling and Recycling of Peabody.
If a single company won the contract to serve both communities, officials said it could possibly cut their overhead and equipment costs, allowing them to charge less for the service and save the cities money.
“We’re definitely excited about partnering with Beverly and hopefully realizing some savings by offering a larger contract for bidders to bid on,” Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll said. “It makes it more of a competitive process.”
The two cities are leaving open the possibility that the experiment won’t produce lower prices.
If that’s the case, both have the option of accepting bids from different companies.
Beverly is nearing the end of a five-year contract with JRM Hauling in which the city paid an average of $1.28 million per year for trash and recycling collection. Salem costs are budgeted at $2.74 million this year, but that also includes the cost for disposal as well as collection.
The new contract would include a couple of significant changes regarding recycling in both cities.
Salem would institute mandatory recycling. Driscoll said enforcement is being worked out, but the program would probably include a warning, such as a sticker, before enforcement kicks in.
“We have so many residents who are recycling already, and we hope to encourage more to do that,” she said. “It’s not only greener but much more economical to recycle these items rather than throw them away. We hope we’re not pushing people to do this but that they’re embracing this.”
Beverly, meanwhile, is considering a switch to weekly recycling. JRM Hauling currently picks up recyclables in the city every two weeks.
“If it comes close to being economical, we’re going to do it,” Scanlon said.
Driscoll said a committee spent six to nine months exploring various methods of reducing trash costs and increasing recycling, with assistance from the Department of Environmental Protection.
“We explored single-stream, mandatory recycling, pay as you throw,” she said. “A lot of thought went into what’s the best model for our collective communities. I hope people realize the effort and the science that goes into this.”
Companies must submit their bids by Jan. 24. The new contract would begin on July 1.
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.