With a set of helping hands from the Pentucket Lake Elementary School Executive Student Council, Mayor James Fiorentini began his promotional campaign for the citywide expansion of single-stream curbside recycling.
By the end of June, homeowners throughout the city will receive letters explaining the new recycling program.
Residents will be able to place all their recyclable material — paper, glass, metal, and plastics — into a single container marked as recyclable material. No sorting will be required.
Currently, most homeowners are able to place only paper at the curbside, while other recyclable materials have to be taken to the Department of Public Works yard on Primrose Street.
The program will save an estimated $400,000 per year, according to reports by the Mayor's Volunteer Recycling Committee and Team Haverhill. The city pays $1.4 million and $1.5 million in collection and disposal costs, respectively, according to those groups.
Since July, the Tuesday and Wednesday recycling routes, which cover the downtown and Bradford areas, have served as the pilot for the program. Each route generated more than $35,000 in savings during the trial period.
Homeowners on the Tuesday route increased recycling from 6 to 9 percent and recycling on Wednesday increased from 10 to 14 percent. Each ton of recyclable materials saves around $56 and offers around $23 in revenue for the city.
At the end of the month, residents should expect to receive a letter from the city with description about how the program works. Enclosed will also be a special sticker to be affixed to the container holding recyclables.
A smaller number of residents will also experience route changes and alterations to their pickup dates.
For Remi DePommier of Team Haverhill, who has served as a co-chairman of the Team Haverhill Recycling Committee, the expansion of this program has been a long time coming.
"The economics are clear; it was inevitable for all parties to come to a win-win situation," he said.
An active proponent of the program within Team Haverhill since 2008, alongside City Councilors Collin LePage and Sven Amirian, DePommier said that the expansion of this program would be a valuable revenue generator for the city both in immediately and in the future.
"I'm pleased and think it's a very important step for Haverhill," he said. "It's taking concrete steps to attract green and environmentally friendly businesses."
Educating and earning the support of residents will take time, DePommier said.
"Changing people's daily habits does take time," he said. "We believe this is something that is not hard to do."
Though the mailing was expected to cost around $30,000 for Team Haverhill, an anonymous and "enthusiastic" donor provided the money to cover the cost, DePommier said.
In addition to funding the mass mailing, money from the donation was also used to place single stream containers in the Haverhill Public Schools and City Hall.
In February, Fiorentini said he was hesitant to commit to a citywide recycling program, fearing he would be forced to lay off city workers to pay the $250,000 that the city's trash hauler, Capital Waste, requested in order to buy a new recycling truck for the city.
The expense was dropped during contract negotiations. The city expanded its contract with Capital Waste until 2014 in exchange for free curbside pickup of recyclables.
Capital also waived buying an additional truck and instead will redistribute the recycling and trash roles among their current trucks. Capital uses five trucks throughout Haverhill and currently allocates four for trash and one split between recycling and trash pickup. Under the new contract, the part-time truck would be dedicated full-time to picking up recyclables.
Fiorentini said the city has reapplied for a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection for $50,000 — paid over two years — to hire a recycling coordinator. It's currently undecided whether the grant would fund a new position or help to pay for a currently existing position within Haverhill's municipal departments, Fiorentini said.