Haverhill’s Recycling Success has Council Looking at Expansion of Program

Biodegradable waste in a trashcan. (Photo by Muu-karhu, Creative Commons.)

Weekly recycling pickup and curbside composting could be the next steps in Haverhill’s trash-control efforts.

City Councilor Colin F. LePage said the city’s recycling rate is just shy of 24 percent this year, an impressive increase from its 8.8 percent in 2009.

A combination of reduction in trash taken to the Covanta incinerator, heavy increase in recycling and a favorable contract from trash hauler Capital Waste, has cut the amount that Haverhill pays to dispose of its trash by almost $400,000 from 2009 to 2017, LePage said. But had the city not been able to reduce its trash disposal by 5,000 tons, it would have paid $1.3 million more than it did. That’s because tipping fees—the amount the city has to pay Covanta to accept its trash—have gone up 11 percent during the same time frame.

“Our costs go down every year because we recycle more,” LePage said. When the city’s curbside recycling program began, every home was allowed to put out 160 gallons of trash. Now, resident can put out 64 gallons. If they have more, they must buy overflow bags.

Haverhill currently recycles clean paper and cardboard, glass, and metals. City Councilor Andy X. Vargas suggested that the city look into curbside pickup of compostable materials.

Composting is the controlled decay of organic materials.

A few Massachusetts communities — Ipswich, Hamilton, Wenham and Somerville — have begun weekly pickup of compostables, which include food scraps (pictured), soiled paper, weeds, grass clippings, even kitty litter, as long as it doesn’t contain bentonite. Usually the items are delivered to a composting site, either municipally or privately owned.

In Ipswich, residents pay $1 a week for pickup of a 12-gallon wheeled, lidded bin to hold their compostables.

Various sources say as much s 24 percent of the trash discarded by the average family could be removed from the waste stream through composting.

Councilors Mary Ellen Daly-O’Brien, Melinda Barrett and Joseph J. Bevilacqua say they’ve been told by Haverhill residents that they would like weekly recycling pickup. Currently, Capital Waste picks up recycling every other week.

LePage said while weekly pickup of recyclables would be more convenient for residents, the costs might not justify the practice.

The council voted to look into weekly recycling pickup and curbside compostable collection.


One thought on “Haverhill’s Recycling Success has Council Looking at Expansion of Program

  1. An expansion of single stream recycling is justified and wise. This represents an opportunity for local government to have a positive impact on quality of life, the environment, and the bottom line.