No matter where you live in New Jersey, the blue recycling bins with their triangular arrow logo are a familiar sight on rural, suburban and urban streets. New Jersey became the first state to order recycling in 1987, on the days when landfills were closing, garbage disposal had become costly, and an infamous garbage barge full of garbage from long island sailed the waters of the East Coast for seven months in search of a home. Each year, grantees use these grants to improve recycling rates through a variety of initiatives, including funding recycling coordinator positions, providing recycling bins and collection in public places, improving recycling delivery centers, education and outreach, and curbside implementation recycling collection programs. DEP officials are confident of achieving the 50 percent recycling target for municipal solid waste and continue to fund local recycling efforts.
In recent years, the state, along with the rest of the United States, has faced increasing challenges in creating profitable recycling markets after China stopped taking dirty recycling waste streams, worsening the current impacts of plastic pollution on New Jersey's environment. The Recycled Content Act is a great companion to New Jersey's single-use plastic bag law, which goes into effect May 4.Chris Christie's near-annual diversion of funds from the state's Clean Energy Fund to plug gaps in the budget is, at least in part, to blame for New Jersey's inability to meet its 50 percent recycling target. For years, nearly half of the plastics collected in recycling bins in the United States were sent to China for processing. We need to use less virgin plastic and this recycled content bill will set a national standard that will move us toward using more recycled content, not virgin plastic, for plastic packaging.
Examples of recycled contaminants include plastic bags, syringes, auto parts, non-recyclable types of plastic, styrofoam cups, food containers that are rinsed and cleaned improperly, food packaging that cannot be cleaned, such as dirty pizza boxes, and the garbage. Owners or operators of railway transfer stations or other facilities designed exclusively to transport waste on railroads are not subject to the Recycling Tax. The State Mandatory Source Separation and Recycling Act set a goal of recycling 50 percent of municipal solid waste and an overall rate of 60 percent, including industries. The DEP allocates this money to municipalities and counties based on their recycling achievements.
It also required counties to develop recycling plans that included at least three designated materials, as well as sheets. Twenty-six communities of varying sizes and types across the state recycled less than half a pound of municipal solid waste per person.