TRENTON – The Department of Environmental Protection is providing New Jersey’s municipalities and counties $13 million in grants to assist local recycling efforts, Commissioner Bob Martin announced Friday.
“These grants are an investment in our future,” Martin said. “Local governments will use this money to continue to build even stronger recycling programs as we all work to continue improving our recycling efforts. Recycling is a priority for the DEP. It is important for the environment by conserving landfills and resources, and it generates tens of thousands of jobs in industries that collect, process and reuse recycled materials.”
The grant money is made available through the Recycling Enhancement Act, a law that has significantly increased Recycling Tonnage Grants the DEP is able to make to local governments. The grant program is funded by a $3 per ton surcharge on trash disposed at solid waste facilities.
Municipal governments, vital to the overall success of recycling, receive 60 percent of the money the fund generates to help them enhance outreach and compliance efforts. The balance is awarded to county solid-waste management and household hazardous-waste collection programs, county and state promotional efforts, and recycling research. Individual grants are based on the recycling success local governments demonstrated in 2008.
The programs receiving the highest grant awards this year based on their recycling achievements are: Jersey City (Hudson) $267,674; Vineland (Cumberland) $255,954; Newark (Essex) $232,709; Clifton (Passaic) $207,094; North Bergen (Hudson) $172,539; Toms River (Ocean) $164,350; South Brunswick (Middlesex) $149,198; Edison (Middlesex) $148,583; Millville (Cumberland) $141,265; Piscataway (Middlesex) $135,868; Cherry Hill (Camden) $133,693; and Woodbridge (Middlesex) $130,524.
“New Jersey’s recycling rates continue to trend upward,” said Guy Watson, chief of the DEP’s Bureau of Recycling and Planning. “We are seeing steady and encouraging increases in rates for a number of reasons, including expanded public outreach efforts, expansion of the types of materials municipalities are collecting, and more convenient recycling options such as single-stream programs that enable residents to put all of their recyclables out for collection in one container.”
In 2008, New Jersey recycled more than 13 million tons of the 22.1 million tons of solid waste generated for an overall recycling rate of 59.1 percent, compared to a rate of 57.3 percent in 2007. This rate includes all types of waste recycled, including municipal solid waste as well as bulky waste such as construction and demolition debris, scrap metal and wood.
New Jersey generated slightly more than 10 million tons of municipal solid waste, of which 3.8 million tons were recycled, for a 37.9 percent municipal solid waste recycling rate, an increase from the 2007 rate of 36.5 percent. Materials recycled as part of municipal programs includes paper, cardboard, glass, metal cans and plastic.
The 37.9 percent municipal waste recycling rate is the highest since 2003, when the rate had dipped to 32.7 percent.
New Jersey became the first state to require statewide recycling in 1987 with passage of the Statewide Mandatory Source Separation and Recycling Act. The state subsequently set a target of recycling 50 percent of the state’s municipal solid waste by 1995.
New Jersey came close to this goal, recycling nearly 45 percent of its municipal solid waste in 1995. But rates dropped over much of the next decade as a result of the expiration of a solid-waste tonnage charge that funded local recycling efforts. Recycling rates also dropped as a result of federal court rulings that struck down state solid-waste flow rules that allowed counties to direct trash to their facilities.
The Recycling Enhancement Act and programs initiated by the DEP and local governments to promote the importance of recycling have been reversing this trend over the past several years.
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