A Special Task Force on Recycling is to research the current recycling practices in Berkeley Heights in order to propose ways to control the increased recycling cost the Township is facing. Now five months along, the Task Force has a plan that will educate residents about recycling best practices as well as will propose new recycling options which will help control costs.
The Task Force is kicking off a campaign to raise the overall level of understanding about, engagement in, and improved practices of recycling in Berkeley Heights. They will start with series of multi-media campaigns, event demonstrations and township sponsored meetings aimed at sharing the information and best practices that will ultimately and ideally help move Berkeley Heights into a leading role in containing costs while improving our overall environment.
Until 2018, China had accepted virtually anything shipped as recycling material as it strove to fill a demand for recycled waste. As a result, recyclers across the United States had abandoned the practice of separating paper and cardboard from plastic and metal, adopting what is known as single stream recycling. Thanks to the inexpensive alternative of shipping our recycling waste overseas, American recycling capacity declined and was caught off guard when China shut down that alternative.
Recycling facilities were previously able to sell recycled materials to manufacturers, which offset some of the costs of recycling. With the loss of willing buyers, this income stream ended and the facilities charged more to cover their costs.
In early 2019, the Township established a Task Force focused on finding solutions to these challenges. In an effort to learn more about the problem and develop cost effective solutions, the taskforce:
- Met with recyclers,
- Toured recycling facilities,
- Talked to other townships and other governing bodies, and
- Conducted a survey to gain a baseline understanding of how much is known in town about recycling and how residents in Berkeley Heights recycle.
As a result of these discussions, visits and gathered information, the Task Force concluded that in order to control costs, the residents need additional education to improve their overall understanding about best practices in recycling habits.