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Letter to the Editor: Haverhill can't Afford Not to Recycle

Written by Sven Amirian, Haverhill, Mass., resident in The Eagle Tribune
Published: January 22, 2009

A local resident writes his newspaper in support of an incentive-based, single-stream, curbside recycling program with Recyclebank

To the editor:

2009 has arrived and the time to make a decision about adopting single-stream recycling is now. If the city of Haverhill wishes to promote itself as a progressive “green” community, one of the most basic and essential tasks that needs to be accomplished is the revamping of our inadequate recycling program.

Numerous studies including the work done by the Mayor's Recycling Task Force and Team Haverhill have shown that a single-stream curbside program would yield the best results. Simply put, the easier a program is to adopt and conform to, the more likely it will be that people participate. How many people in Haverhill do not recycle right now because it is just not convenient to haul materials to the recycling center, which only has limited hours? How many more people would recycle if the process was as simple as throwing out the trash?

Recycling is certainly the proper social and environmental choice and while I'd like to believe that the motivation of simply doing the right thing is enough, this has proven not to be the case. While an easy to use, single-stream, curbside recycling program is a good start, it can't end there. It has been shown that through the use of incentives, the recycling rate of any town can be noticeably improved. Haverhill has the opportunity to team up with Recyclebank, a company which through the use of savvy marketing and an incentive based program has helped numerous towns and cities dramatically increase their rates of recycling. The benefit that Recyclebank would provide is something that cannot be passed up.

Can Haverhill afford to adopt these changes to its recycling program? The bottom line is that our city can't afford not to. Every ton of garbage we send to the incinerator costs the city $54.52. Every ton that can be diverted through recycling saves that same amount. In 2007, Haverhill spent $1.37 million to burn its trash. The DEP estimates that between 40 percent and 50 percent of the trash being burned at incinerators is recyclable. So assuming we could divert just half the recyclables that are currently being burned, the city would save over $300,000 per year.

The arguments for an incentive based, single-stream, curbside recycling program are too compelling to ignore. Haverhill cannot delay any further in implementing this necessary change. Let's take the first step on our long journey in becoming a leading community for promoting the new “green” economy.

Sven Amirian

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