Where, oh where, has your mixed paper gone? Where, oh where, can it be?

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Tree huggers, meet the fiscal pragmatics:  Metuchen is potentially losing up to $203,000 annually because we don't seem to be recycling enough - especially our mixed paper.  

 

And that's assuming a 50%-at-best recycling rate.  

 

According to information presented by Patricia Donahue of the Environmental Commission at this week's council meeting, Metuchen's recycling rate has dropped from a 1997 high of 54% to a low of the 31% that we're on target to reach in 2008.   In the same period, garbage collection has increased by 89 tons.  

The biggest loss is in the mixed paper group.  Since 1997, our annual collection in this category has dropped by 297 tons. That's a problem because mixed paper is the most lucrative, earning the borough $135 per ton versus $10 per ton from plastic, glass, and aluminum.  According to the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), Metuchen's newspaper collection is good but in cardboard collection, we're only ahead of Perth Amboy and Dunellen.  

 

In the same period, recycled commingle, the mixed group of materials for which we now have designated weekly collection bins, has increased by 106 tons.  Mayor Vahalla stated he would indeed support a designated bin for mixed paper if that's what was needed.

 

NJDEP noted that if recycling rates could increase to 50% across the state, an additional 9,000 personnel would find employment.  Recycling currently adds $6 billion to the state economy and is responsible for 27,000 jobs.   In 2001, recycling saved 128 trillion BTUs of energy in the state, which was equal to 17.2% of all energy used.

 

Public commentary pointed to several issues possibly connected to the problem.  Several people stated that the schools aren't recycling enough.  Others mentioned that recyclables containers throughout town could help.  Spot inspections, denied collection, and perhaps even fines, were all suggested to give the ordinance some teeth.

 

All in attendance felt education was another critical element.  Do you know what is considered mixed paper? Maybe not.        

 

Our director of public works is currently undergoing Recycling Coordinator training with the NJDEP.  The state's goal for this training is to give each community the most effective tools for strategic recycling programs, including getting the most from county and state initiatives as well as determining how to work best with haulers and within the community culture.     

 

The 35th anniversary of the Environmental Commission was recognized and honored at Monday night's council meeting.  Past and present citizen volunteers were praised by commission liaison Will Waldron.  With our impact on the earth a greater concern than ever before, the commission's mission remains timely and critical.  If mother earth is your passion, please consider volunteering your time and energy to this committee.  Or, at the very least, reduce, reuse, and RECYCLE! 

5 Comments

I heard that Campbell was working on their recycling because as the teachers separate into different bins all the material was getting put together because there was no central proper bin for it.

another job for the already overworked Public Works Director. Most towns havwe a dedicated person assigned to that job. The increased recycling fees could pay for the coordinator. Not in Metuchen though, the department of public works has had their workforce reduced by at least 6 people in the last few years and they also lost a supervisor. The director does an excellent job, but how much can you do, and do efficiently. "Penny wise dollar foolish", that is the Metuchen Motto.

Could it be that there is a reduction in the amount of recycled paper that is being produced by each house? People get bills, magazines and mail on the internet. As far as the increase in tonnage in garbage. Could this be because now we can throw everything under the sun into our grbage bins, such as tvs?

It's in my neighbor's garbage!!

Part of the problem is there is no enforcement. Some people don't recycle and don't care. Now that we have automated pickup there is no one looking in the cans.

If we had more recycling the revenue from recycling might even be enough to pay for the garbage disposal fees.

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  • Anonymous: I heard that Campbell was working on their recycling because read more
  • Anonymous: another job for the already overworked Public Works Director. Most read more
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  • Anonymous: It's in my neighbor's garbage!! read more
  • Anonymous: Part of the problem is there is no enforcement. Some read more
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