Katie Giddings: Salem's new recycling program is in full swing
By Katie Giddings/ Salem Recycles
Sat Oct 11, 2008, 02:39 PM EDT
This column is the first in a continuing series written by members of the Salem Recycling Committee and city employees who collaborate with the committee.
Mayor Kimberley Driscoll appointed this committee in early 2008, one of a growing list of green initiatives the city is undertaking. The committee has been instrumental in promoting downtown recycling, in large part through the purchase of Big Belly recycling kiosks, along with the Canabales recently received through a state Department of Environmental Protection grant.
Members of the committee have participated in many city events to continue to spread the word on recycling, at venues such as the green fair in June and many ad-hoc presentations at Crosby’s Market.
Currently, residents of Salem have an enhanced curbside recycling program which provides for weekly collection of recyclable materials, expands what plastics can be recycled, and brings the city into compliance with state regulations that require the recycling of corrugated cardboard.
These are all features of a new curbside collection contract with Northside Carting that took effect in August. In addition, a new provision that limits the amount of trash that a household can set at the curbside to three 35-gallon barrels per week will be strictly enforced beginning Jan. 1, 2009.
“We are very pleased with this new contract,” says Mayor Driscoll. “In addition to providing expanded recycling services, this new contract will save the city close to $700,000 per year.”
“Weekly recycling will make it much easier for everyone,” says Penny Neal, the newest member of Salem’s recycling committee. “Now it is just as easy to recycle as to throw something away in the trash.”
Recycling plastic containers is easier too. Residents can now recycle any plastic household product container labeled with a #1-#7, not just those with a #1 or #2. “We find that when residents can recycle any plastic bottle or jar we get a lot more of the plastics we want,” says Christine Depose, program manager for North Shore Recycled Fibers, a Salem-based facility where recyclable materials collected in Salem are taken.
Northside Carting will no longer collect corrugated cardboard unless it is properly prepared and set out with other recyclables. This brings Salem into compliance with state regulations that ban the disposal of corrugated cardboard as trash in Massachusetts. Because the compartments in the recycling truck are only 3 square feet, boxes must be flattened and cut down or folded to that size or smaller. Residents can take larger pieces and quantities of cardboard to the North Shore Recycled Fibers facility located at 53 Jefferson Ave. during business hours.
“There is so much that can be recycled that most people won’t have any trouble keeping within the three trash barrel limit,” says Julie Rose, business manager for the Salem Engineering Department, pointing to an overflowing recycling bin. “Many people don’t realize that recyclable paper represents over 35 percent of the average household’s waste.”
In addition to newspaper, Salem residents can recycle almost every kind of paper there is: boxes, brochures, catalogs, cereal and cracker boxes, colored paper, copy paper, envelopes, file folders, glossy paper, junk mail, magazines, newspaper, notebooks, paper bags, phone books, school papers, soft cover books, writing tablets and almost every other kind of paper there is.
Even pizza boxes can be recycled if they are clean or the greasy parts are cut off. Pizza boxes with oil cannot be recycled. To demonstrate that pizza boxes are clean and empty residents must turn them inside out.
“Residents don’t need to worry about paperclips, staples, plastic windows or self-stick labels,” says Rose. “They can all be left on the paper when you recycle it.”
There are only a few types of paper that residents should not recycle. These include paper towels, napkins, tissues, paper cups and plates. That’s because too often these items are dirty.
Paper products that are designed to hold their shape when wet — such as paper cups and any container that goes in the refrigerator or freezer — should not be recycled, because these have a plastic coating and don’t break down during the recycling process. Other non-recyclable materials include candy wrappers, tyvek envelopes, cellophane and photographs.
If residents need more room for all their recyclables they may pick up additional recycling bins at Crosby’s Marketplace, Winer Bros. Hardware, or at the DPS building for $6 each. They can also use a paper bag or any suitable container they have at home as long as it is easily recognizable — an old trash barrel can be converted into a recycling container by adding a recycling sticker, available upon request from the Public Works Department.
To help the collection crews, residents are asked to place recyclable materials at least three feet away from trash containers.
The three 35-gallon barrel limit will be strictly enforced beginning Jan. 1. “Most residents won’t have a problem as long as they recycle,” says Rose, “but if residents do have extra material they can always take it to the transfer station.” The transfer station is located on Swampscott Road and is open Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday, 8:30-11:30 a.m., and is closed on major holidays.
This is the first installment of the Salem Recycles column, which will appear regularly in the Gazette. This week’s author, Katie Giddings, is a Salem resident who serves as chairman of the Salem Recycling Committee. She works as a graphic designer at Harvard Business School, where she is a member of the HBS Green Team. She is currently studying environmental management at Harvard Extension School.