, Salem, MA

September 2, 2013

Salem considering compost pickup program

By Bethany Bray

---- — SALEM — The city is exploring the idea of curbside compost pickup.

It’s been done for more than a year in Hamilton, Wenham and Ipswich, where residents put egg shells, coffee grounds, pizza boxes, kitty litter, vegetable peelings and other biodegradable items out to the curb along with recycling and trash barrels for pickup.

Salem’s Recycling Committee posted an online survey last month to gauge resident interest about the idea. More than 100 people have taken the survey, said Mayor Kim Driscoll, and feedback has been positive.

“It’s something the city’s been interested in pursuing,” she said. “We’re just at the beginning stages, to see if there’s any interest in this as an option.”

How it could work in Salem — where the compost would go, how often it would be picked up, what type of bins would be used and other details — needs to be determined.

“There’s a lot to figure out and we’re just starting that dialogue,” Driscoll said. “... There’s definitely interest. Early on, we’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback.”

The city will keep the survey online and collect feedback through this month, Driscoll said. After that, Salem’s Recycling Committee and City Hall staff will compile the survey data and begin to research the logistics of a possible compost program.

Driscoll noted that the city’s new director of public services, John Tomasz, was previously the public works director in Hamilton, where curbside composting has been successful.

The city’s recycling folks have been interested in exploring the idea of composting for a while, Driscoll said. The issue is not connected with the city’s recent adoption of a mandatory recycling policy and hiring of a grant-funded recycling coordinator, she said.

Like recycling, compost pickup is a way to reduce a municipality’s trash tonnage. Hamilton officials say the town’s composting program has saved more than $30,000 in trash collection costs.

In Ipswich, Hamilton and Wenham, “organic waste” is collected weekly and trucked to Brick Ends Farm in Hamilton, where it is composted. Kitchen scraps are accepted, such as vegetable peelings and coffee grounds, as well as meat scraps and bones, grass and houseplant clippings, kitty litter and paper goods, such as soiled pizza boxes and paper towels.

In Hamilton and Wenham, the composting program is included as part of trash and recycling pickup. Ipswich residents pay $1.92 per week for compost pickup.

“(Municipal composting) is not routine, but other communities do it,” Driscoll said. “We certainly wouldn’t be the first community to do it.”

In Beverly, compost was collected at the Homecoming lobster festival at Lynch Park on Aug. 7. Officials say 1,500 pounds of lobster shells and compostable materials were collected and taken to Brick Ends Farm.

Bethany Bray can be reached at and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.


Salem residents: weigh in on whether you think curbside compost pickup is a good idea. A link to an online survey is posted at The city will compile feedback through September.