Compost Program Question and Answer

We recently received a great question about the composting program that is ending in mid-April and we thought all might benefit from our answer.


We are curious to know why residents will be charged for composting when participating in this program should be saving the city the cost of removing the compost when it is put into regular trash or put down the disposal and processed through sewage treatment. We must be misunderstanding the process somehow because it seems that if we recycle scrap metal, for example, we are paid so shouldn’t the city be paid for all of the compost?
We hope that you might be able to shed some light on this situation.


You are correct that the cost to compost your food waste is less expensive and better for the environment than to dispose of it at the city’s contracted disposal facility.

That said, the cost to conduct this two-year pilot and collect your food waste was an additional cost that the City incurred.  The pilot was very successful with more than 1,200 households participating, and the city got great data, but with the recent switch to automated cart collection, the city cannot afford to carry the cost of this additional service at this time.

Some misconceptions:

Food waste that is buried (landfilled) does not decompose the same way as food waste that is composted. Landfilling food waste actually creates methane gas as it has no oxygen and bacterias to break it down. Food waste that is incinerated creates more CO2. Food waste put down garbage disposals makes it so that it takes more energy to filter and clean the water.

In April, it will be an optional, but beneficial service through an outside vendor, Black Earth – where residents will contract directly with Black Earth Compost, 978-290-4610.

We hope that you will continue in the compost program to help build support for a future municipal collection contract that can reasonably include curbside food waste composting. Please do check out new tips under the Compost tab on

Thanks for composting!
SalemRecycles Committee

Salem Transfer Station Closed for Winter

The Salem Transfer Station on Swampscott Road is now closed for the winter season. It is anticipated that it will reopen in Spring 2016 for yard waste drop off. Happy Winter!

In addition, residents should no longer leave old trash and recycling receptacles at the Salem Department of Public Services facility. To dispose of these containers from this point, they should be brought to North Shore Recycled Fibers, 53 Jefferson Avenue, between 7:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., Mondays-Fridays. All metal should be removed from containers before they are brought to North Shore Recycled Fibers; they will not accept receptacles with metal. For more information, please call North Shore Recycled Fibers at (978) 744-4330.

Waste Management (WM), Salem’s New Trash & Recycling Hauler

Waste Management (WM) took over the City contract effective June 1, 2015.

Watch the SATV show: Salem Neighbors, Recycling in Salem. This interview format with the City’s representatives should help answer all your nagging Trash & Recycling pickup questions.

Watch the new WM Trash & Recycling Program PSA

WM FAQ October 2015

WM Brochure for Trash Pick-up and Recycling Collection Services (English)



What NOT to do: Do NOT overload the bins.

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Mayor Driscoll, along with Barbara Warren, Salem Sound Coastwatch Executive Director, SalemRecycles members, Salem Chamber, & Salem Main Streets, kick off the new Park Your Butts campaign! We’re showing off the jazzy new sticker that Salem Sound Coastwatch’s Talking Trash Teens (TTT) helped design. TTT also mapped the locations of the current butt bins and recommended new locations in an effort to get more use of the bins. Great collaboration and effort by all involved!


Click to Enlarge to See New Stickers

Plastic Bag Recycling Rules Updated:

Sometime recycling “rules” change, and here are additions we think you’ll like! When you recycle plastic bags, you may now include Tyvek envelopes, as well as plastic cereal bags & box liners (all CLEAN, please). Get the updated list: PlasticBagRecycling 2-15

Cigarette Butts Recycle Program:

See these boxes around town? Please help keep Salem Clean, Get your BUTTS in there! 1st collection made on 12/4/14. “Cigarette waste is one of the most common forms of litter on our streets and sidewalks,” says Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll. “Having these receptacles available should provide us one more tool in our efforts to keep our city clean, while maintaining our commitment to being green and eliminating our overall trash output.” Read more.

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