, Salem, MA

January 29, 2013

No savings seen in joint trash collection


---- — Teaming up on trash collection might not save Salem and Beverly money after all.

Five companies have submitted bids ranging from $16 million to $25 million to pick up trash and recycling in both cities for the next five years.

Beverly Mayor Bill Scanlon said those prices do not reflect the cost-saving that officials were hoping would be produced by a joint contract and that trash pickup is likely to remain separate.

“Based on the bids we’ve received, the vendors do not see any synergy in trying to handle both communities,” Scanlon said.

Salem and Beverly currently have separate contracts for trash and recycling pickup. In an effort to find cost savings, the two cities for the first time issued a joint offer for collection companies to bid for the services in both communities.

JRM Hauling and Recycling of Peabody submitted the lowest combined bid of $16.2 million. But Salem’s end of that cost, $8.4 million, would be $1 million more than if the city stayed with its current vendor, Northside Carting of North Andover.

Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll said Salem officials are still crunching the numbers, but she agreed with Scanlon that the “economies of scale” from a combined contract might not be as significant as officials had hoped.

“We are still analyzing the bids submitted, so we can understand the best choice,” she said. “If we’re able to save money operating individually or collectively, it’s good news for taxpayers.”

The companies that currently handle trash pickup submitted the lowest individual bids — $7.5 million by Northside Carting for Salem and $7.8 million by JRM Hauling & Recycling for Beverly. The JRM bid includes running Beverly’s compost site on Standley Street.

Northside Carting’s Salem bid was almost $1 million lower than the next-lowest bidder, while JRM’s Beverly bid was nearly $2 million than the next-lowest.

In Beverly, the new contract would include weekly recycling, which was a topic of debate in last year’s mayoral race. JRM currently picks up recycling every other week.

The city’s Solid Waste Management Committee started to circulate a petition demanding weekly recycling but withdrew it last month when the city included weekly recycling as part of its contract proposal.

“I think there is public support for it,” said Charles Perlo, chairman of the Solid Waste Management Committee. “We wanted to raise the consciousness of the people and impress upon them what an important issue this was. All of our surrounding towns have weekly recycling.”

Scanlon said he must still negotiate final numbers with JRM but said it’s likely that weekly recycling will be implemented.

Beverly would also reduce from 10 to five the maximum number of barrels that would be picked up.

As part of its new contract, Salem would institute mandatory recycling. Driscoll has said enforcement is being worked out, but the program would probably include a warning, such as a sticker on trash that should be recycled.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or