“That leaves organics and other that makes up 32 percent,” Pierce said. “That’s what should be in our waste collection truck.”
The presence of banned materials in people’s trash presents a particular problem for the city given the end of DARP, or the state’s Department-Approved Recycling Plan, this past spring. In March, the Department of Environmental Protection announced that it would be ending DARP, which had previously exempted qualified communities from comprehensive waste inspections.
In other words, Amesbury could be fined if a future inspection turns up too much recyclable or banned material in the trash.
There were some positive trends to point to, though. Pierce said that Amesbury’s recycling savings doubled from 2007 to 2012, and in the Fiscal Year 2012, Amesbury saved almost $160,000.
Ultimately, the key for Amesbury residents is to comply with the new programs and to recycle as much as possible, she said.
The DPW’s presentation came in response to some confusion among the public regarding those new programs, specifically one that had some residents crying “Big Brother.”
Earlier this fall, the DPW began an educational initiative intended to reach out to people who were throwing away recyclables and banned materials. Residents initially interpreted the effort as the DPW acting as the trash police, rummaging through people’s trash to see if they were in violation.
Desmarais clarified that this would only happen if G. Mello had already flagged the residence and if the resident was home to go through it with them. The DPW also emphasized that violators would not be fined, and that the program’s intention was to bring people into compliance.
Other new programs intended to bring Amesbury more in line with its new disposal contract and state regulations include a requirement that residents purchase a “Bulk Sticker” before disposing of bulk items like furniture, along with new collection days for the downtown business district.