Innovative recycling recognized

By ROBERT LINNEHAN | The Cherry Hill Sun

Cherry Hill Township continues to draw recognition for its recycling efforts, as Mayor Bernie Platt accepted an award last week from the first Sustainability Jersey municipal awards, hosted by the NJ League of Municipalities.

Sustainable Jersey program partner Donna Drewes, of the Municipal Land Use Center at The College of New Jersey, congratulated the winning towns.

“Our winners represent the pioneers that are making extraordinary contributions toward the long-term goal of a sustainable New Jersey and world,” she said.

The four award winners were chosen from a list of 34 towns that have achieved the 2009 Sustainable Jersey certification.

Awards were given to municipalities in four different categories, with Cherry Hill receiving an Innovation Award for its new RecycleBank program.

Unveiled in the summer of 2008, the recycling program rewards citizens for recycling, offering special discounts and coupons for the amount of material recycled.

“As one of the first municipalities in the state to implement the RecycleBank program, we knew Cherry Hill would be pioneering a new approach to community recycling. Our decision has paid off in a significantly bolstered recycling rate, a notable decrease in solid waste, and a more aware public — results we are proud of here,” Mayor Bernie Platt said.

League representatives said the program is a “win-win” for the municipality and its residents. The municipality saves money on solid waste pickup, recycling awareness is increased among the community, and the local business community receives more business from residents.

RecycleBank provides each home with a special 96-gallon recycle container that is able to monitor exactly how much each home recycles each week by scanning a barcode each time recycling is collected.

The amount recycled by each individual home is translated into RecycleBank Reward Points. The points can then be redeemed for coupons that residents can use to shop at hundreds of participating stores.

Since its inception in June of 2008, Chief of Staff Dan Keashen said the average recycling rates in the township have increased by several increments. Pre-RecycleBank, the average household was recycling 11 pounds of material. Since RecycleBank, Keashen said the number has shot up to an average of 22 pounds.

Overall, the township has diverted more than 8,000 tons of material from going to a landfill, he said. The township’s average recycling tonnage is 80 percent higher post RecycleBank.

“My administration and I are very pleased to be receiving recognition for the township’s successful partnership with RecycleBank in the form of a Sustainable Jersey Innovation award,” Platt said. “Programs such as RecycleBank and Sustainable Jersey, which use incentives and education to motivate participants toward achieving environmental goals, are helping not only Cherry Hill become a national leader in implementing innovative sustainability initiatives, but the hundreds of other municipalities in New Jersey as well.”

Maplewood Township received an award in the field of Leadership, while Chatham Township and Chatham Borough received an award in Collaboration.