New Jersey is doing a good job of recycling thanks in part to the efforts of this year’s DEP recycling award winners. Among the 2020 honorees are a business that recycles food waste from its cafeterias and plastics from its laboratories; a municipality that recycles 75 percent of its waste, including polystyrene; a university with a comprehensive recycling and reuse program; and an 11-year-old boy who started a successful battery recycling program.
The Department of Environmental Protection recognized Merck & Co., Inc. in Kenilworth, Union County, Middletown Township in Monmouth County, Princeton University in Princeton, Mercer County, and Sri Nihal Tammana of Edison, Middlesex County among 10 businesses, organizations and individuals during a Thursday, Nov. 19 virtual awards ceremony held in conjunction with an Association of New Jersey Recyclers educational webinar.
“I commend the award winners for their innovative efforts to promote recycling and educate their communities about the importance of diverting waste,” DEP Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe said. “New Jersey has been a national leader in recycling for many years, thanks in part to the types of initiatives we see from our recycling award winners and those who follow their excellent examples. Their work helps protect our environment by keeping communities clean and reducing the impacts of climate change.”
“We proudly recognize these award winners for their diligent work to keep New Jersey’s environment clean and healthy,” said Paul Baldauf, Assistant Commissioner for Air Quality, Energy and Sustainability. “Every year our winners show us the value of recycling and its importance to the environment. We hope that promoting their accomplishments will inspire others to adopt better recycling practices.”
In 1987, New Jersey became the first state to enact legislation that requires recycling in residential, commercial and institutional settings. New Jersey achieved an overall recycling rate of 60 percent in 2017. The DEP administers a number of grant and educational programs to help improve the statewide recycling rate. The DEP urges all residents to participate in their local recycling program and do their part to keep unacceptable materials, such as plastic bags, trash, propane tanks and used syringes, out of curbside and workplace recycling bins.
INSTITUTION: Princeton University – The university recycles numerous materials such as glass bottles, plastic containers, aluminum cans, paper, corrugated cardboard, metal, food waste, wooden pallets, mattresses, textiles, tires, construction and demolition debris. The university also has a comprehensive reuse program in place for computers, furniture, office supplies, books and items left behind after students leave at the end of each academic year.
BUSINESS: Public Service Electric & Gas – PSE&G achieved a 93 percent recycling rate in 2019 by recycling the typical materials found in office settings – paper, corrugated cardboard, glass, plastic, and metal containers. They also recycle asphalt, soil, tree trimmings, induction light fixtures, wood scraps, lead acid batteries, and ferrous scrap.
RETAIL MERCHANT – Burlington Stores, Inc. – Burlington Stores, Inc. recycles a wide variety of materials from its New Jersey stores, distribution centers and corporate offices, including corrugated cardboard, wooden pallets, single-stream recyclables, scrap metal, electronics, plastic film and fluorescent bulbs.
GOVERNMENT: Township of Middletown – The township increased its recycling rate to 75 percent from 65 percent through a comprehensive program that includes single-stream curbside collection, two recycling drop-off centers and a polystyrene recycling program open to all Monmouth County residents.
LEADERSHIP: Long Beach Township – The community implemented an innovative voluntary recycling project that diverts oyster and clam shells from restaurants for use in establishing a research oyster reef in Little Egg Harbor Bay.
RISING STAR: Lisamarie Schieli – Maywood’s recycling coordinator has developed and implemented a wide variety of reuse and recycling programs for non-traditional waste items including used sports equipment, books, prom dresses, Halloween costumes, jeans, board games and more.
OUTSTANDING EDUCATOR/EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM: Toms River Township Department of Public Works – The department developed an educational program about recycling and litter prevention that features a puppet show and coloring book for school children and a robot used at public events.
RECYCLING INDUSTRY: Foam Cycle LLC – The company’s recycling system for expanded polystyrene packaging has been successfully incorporated into existing recycling programs at county and municipal recycling centers. The system in 2019 diverted almost 29,000 pounds of expanded polystyrene packaging from New Jersey landfills.
SOURCE REDUCTION, RESOURCE MANAGEMENT/SUSTAINABILITY: Merck & Co., Inc. – The pharma company implemented a variety of waste reduction, recycling and sustainability programs, including a food waste recycling program that uses on-site composters, a program to recycle plastics generated by the company’s laboratories and a reusable coffee mug initiative.
VOLUNTEER CITIZEN: Sri Nihal Tammana – The Edison 11-year-old boy started a non-profit organization dedicated to recycling batteries, including rechargeable batteries and button batteries. To date, his efforts have resulted in recycling more than 35,000 batteries.