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Doing More to Recycle

Date : Tue, 22 May 2012 11:28:29 -0400

For Immediate Release
May 21, 2012 Contact Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

Doing More to Recycle New Jersey needs to take action now to improve our recycling record.Recycling rates in our state are dropping but there are a number of steps members of the Legislature can take to reverse this trend by encouraging more recycling.Increasing the amount of glass, plastics, and paper is not only good for the environment but for our wallets as well.Higher recycling rates cuts trash removal costs for municipalities.The Legislature can act now to improve recycling in New Jersey through two important bills.The Bottle Bill would create a refundable deposit on bottles and cans.A bill banning plastic bags would help keep this litter out of our oceans and landfills. These measures would help stabilize property taxes while reducing litter and protecting the environment.

"Our recycling program is garbage.Every year we seem to be recycling less but there is more trash along our roadways and in our streams.New Jersey has to come up with a comprehensive plan to address solid waste and garbage.We are turning New Jersey from the Garden State to the garbage state.Recycling saves us money and helps the environment," *said Jeff Tittel, Director of the NJ Sierra Club*. The amount of garbage being recycled is declining.Since 1990 recycling has dropped dramatically in New Jersey. In the early 1990's we recycled over 50% of municipal and household waste and now we are only recycling 37.1% and some counties like Hunterdon are down to 20%.All sectors, including commercial and households, produce 19,780,912 tons of recyclable waste in New Jersey.Just over 11 million of that makes it to the recycling bin, so we are throwing out 8 million tons.In 2010 we recycled 59.1% of waste, but that has decreased to 56.9% in FY2012 and they are estimating the same for FY2013.Also in FY2012 Governor Christie diverted $20 million of recycling funding to balance the budget.

"Last year Governor Christie diverted money for education and enforcement that would have helped towns and counties have recycling programs. Instead the money went to balance the budget, hurting recycling and the environment. The failure to recycle not only costs us more in tax money, but hurts our environment by polluting our grounds and littering our streams and bays," said Jeff. The less we recycle the more greenhouse gases and pollution we have from emissions from landfills and emissions from manufacturing new products each time. Making a new aluminum can uses nine times as much energy as recycling that can. We also avoid pollution from additional bauxite mining. Recycling helps to lower property taxes or your garbage bill, as it costs between $65-$125 a ton to place garbage in the landfill but you make actually receive between $20 to $30 a ton for certain recycling materials.For other recyclable material it is much cheaper to get rid of, $10 a ton versus $100 a ton.Increasing recycling rates could save households as much as $100 a year as each household produces about 1500 pounds per person of garbage a year.We export 1.8 million tons of waste to other states each year, along with the air pollution from 100,000 trucks.We are the number 2 waste exporter in the country.That is tax money sent out of state each year.By increasing the recycling rate our municipalities will be earning money, not spending it to dump waste.This will help stabilize or lower property taxes, while saving the environment. We need funds and programs to provide more education and enforcement because this will get more people to recycle. The education program would focus not only on the environmentally benefits but the tax reductions. New Jersey should also be helping municipalities to do pilot programs on composting. There is very little if any enforcement going on.Enforcement can include not picking up garbage for people who are not recycling or even fines.This is already done under the Electronic Waste recycling program.Also we can implement single stream recycling. A Bottle Bill is a critical step to increasing recycling rates. New Jersey only recycles 50% of cans and bottles while Michigan, with a Bottle Bill, recycles 97%.The Smart Containers Act S867/A984 (Cunningham/Huttle) would establish such as system in New Jersey and help us to achieve similar recycling rates as Michigan.These bottles get out into our environment and clog our storm basins and get into our waterways.Every year we pick up 6 million pounds of cans and bottles and other floatables along our roadways.Litter is a major source of pollution for our rivers and bays. A ban on plastic bags is also an important for reducing our waste stream and encouraging more recycling through the use of recyclable, biodegradable or reusable bags.There are a number of bills in the Legislature that address the overabundance of this litter but banning plastic bags is the best way to keep this harmful litter out of the environment. Increasing incinerator use is not a viable way to address our waste stream.Currently New Jersey's incinerators are financial disasters.The Camden incinerator is close to going broke.Because the facilities are expensive to operate, we are importing trash from New York to Newark and Rahway incinerators.New Jersey taxpayers and ratepayers are therefore subsiding the importation of out of state trash.Incinerators also put out a lot of pollution and have had a number of violations over the years.

"We will save green by going green.Recycling will save us moneywhile protecting the environment.We need to do a lot more to help New Jersey recycle more," said Jeff Tittel.

Kate Millsaps
Program Assistant
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
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Received on 2012-05-22 08:28:29

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