HAVERHILL — Call them the recycling police.
Haverhill has hired two people to inspect trash in neighborhoods across in the city to make sure residents are recycling properly.
If they are not, they may be fined. One resident said he already received one warning notice saying he was late in setting out his recyclables, and that if he continued the practice he would be subject to a $50 fine.
City officials say the two coordinators won't be rummaging through your trash, but will be checking to see if people are leaving their recyclables and trash at curbside on the scheduled pick-up day.
"None of it makes sense," said Altamont Street resident Jeff Duford, who was warned for failing to put out his recyclables at the right time. "I do my part and the city makes money off of recycling. But why should I go to the bother of washing yogurt containers and mayonnaise containers and tuna cans if I'm going to be fined?"
About 58 percent of the city's roughly 14,000 households participate in Haverhill's mandatory single-stream curbside recycling program, and officials want to increase that rate. Recycling has saved the city more than $250,000 in trash disposal fees since the program went into effect citywide in July of 2010, officials said. The program allows residents to combine glass bottles, cans, plastics, paper and cardboard in one container, with no separation required. The city currently spends about $1.2 million a year in trash disposal fees.
The city's Waste/Recycling Department has received a $50,000 grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to hire the two part-time recycling enforcement coordinators.
"We won't be looking through your trash," said Steve Clifford, Haverhill's recycling program director. "We're trying to get people to comply as the state is clamping down and we must increase our recycling rate."