Assembly committee hears testimony on state recycling efforts

TRENTON – More recycling means more money for New Jersey, according to testimony taken today at the New Jersey Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee meeting.

New Jersey is celebrating its 25th anniversary of a statewide recycling mandate, and the committee took testimony on the status of recycling in the Garden State.

Jane Kozinski is the Assistant Commissioner for Environmental Management at the Department of Environmental Protection.

Kozinski said municipalities switching to single-stream recycling (which calls for all recyclables to be placed into one container) have increased the amount of recycling in the state.

But the state still lags behind in terms of the ideal recycling participation rate (50 percent), according to interested parties that testified today.

Kozinski said only one county in New Jersey has reached a 50 percent recycling rate, and 1/3 of towns have a less than 25 percent recycling rate.

Jeff Tittel, the director of the New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club, said that in the early 1990s, New Jersey had a recycling rate of over 50 percent.

“We’re not doing the kind of job we should be doing,” Tittel said.

But an increase in the state’s recycling rate from 37 percent in 2009 to 40 percent in 2010 “represents some big dollars to this state,” Kozinski said.

Kozinski said the increase has resulted in $26 million in savings and $45.5 million generated in sales of recyclable materials, totaling $71 million in savings and revenues.

“If New Jersey can get its recycling rate up to 50 percent, as is required by federal law, we can expect another 10,000 jobs in New Jersey,” Kozinski said.

On average, New Jersey residents produce 6.1 pounds of waste per day, which is above the average of 4 pounds per day, according to the EPA.

“I don’t know why that is,” Kozinski said.

Nicholas Maddaloni, Essex County’s chief sanitation officer, testified about how state funding is spent on educational grants in his home county.

“We’ve educated over 3,000 school children about the necessities of recycling,” Maddaloni said.

Maddaloni endorsed single-stream recycling, but said the decision to go to single-stream recycling lies with the municipalities.

Mike Taylor, an area vice president of Waste Management, said that recycling has changed over the years.

Declining newspaper circulations have affected the world of recycling, and he added that water bottles now use one-third less plastic than in the past.

Dominick D’Altilio, the president of the New Jersey Association of Recyclers, said his organization, a non-profit, is working with the DEP to update and amend regulations to make “minor language changes.”

D’Altilio said some towns choose not to opt in to single-stream recycling because the money received from single-stream recycling is sometimes less because the materials need to be separated. 

In the proposed budget, $10 million was removed from the recycling program and placed in the general fund.

Assembly committee hears testimony on state recycling efforts