Cherry Hill working toward informing citizens of proper recycling techniques

Improper collection and storage means more work, cost for township.

Since last fall, Cherry Hill Township has stepped up its efforts to inform citizens about the proper way to collect and store recycled items, as well as which items are allowed or unable to be included.  

They’ve arrived via slogans such as “Don’t Bag Recyclables,” “Keep them Loose,” “Recycle Smart,” and “Why Recycling Matters.” Through social media posts, weekly briefings by Mayor Chuck Cahn and handing out information in face-to-face interactions at various township events, the hope is that Cherry Hill’s 72,000 residents will get the message and adjust accordingly. 

One new method the township has rolled out in recent weeks is the placement of stickers on residential recycling bins, with detailed written and visual instructions. 

Recycling doesn’t work if it is not done properly. Contaminated or ‘dirty recycling’ undermines the environmental benefits of recycling and results in increased costs to municipalities and their taxpayers. Through these efforts, we hope to have a cleaner recycling stream, for the benefit of our residents and our environment,” said township spokesperson Jodi Gilbert. 

“In discussing how to best reach every household on these issues, we decided on the stickers. Most people want to do what’s right when it comes to recycling, but they simply do not know that certain things are not recyclable (e.g., plastic bags of any kind cannot be recycling in individual recycling carts, they must be deposited at a recycling spot specifically designated for single-use plastic bags). Clean recycling is important for so many reasons – environmental and financial.”  

Gilbert said the township is still in the process of distributing stickers to residents and should be finished sometime during the week ending July 13. She further stated that many township residents have been eager to learn about the new recycling procedures.  

The township was able to set aside $100,000 for disposal of recycling in its fiscal year 2019 budget, but recycling efforts also include the cost of collection, which balloons to  approximately $900,000 per year.  

That total outlay of $1 million only relates to residential recycling, Gilbert added. Businesses have to take care of recycling on their own. She also revealed that there is no definitive, fixed cost that is incurred when township residents fail to recycle properly. Cherry Hill’s recycling contract does not specify what the cost is for a contaminated load, and that number is something township governance is expected to work through in the coming months.    

To date, the mayor’s office has not received any complaints or inquiries about township employees placing educational recycling stickers on the bins – although the bins themselves are actually township property, Gilbert said.  

“As for township employees checking residents’ recycling bins, we have not been doing that and there are currently no plans for that. We believe it might be a misunderstanding as township employees have been attaching the educational recycling stickers to the bins,” Gilbert added, in response to an inquiry stemming from posts on a Cherry Hill-centric Facebook page that discussed the new recycling measures at length. 

If residents have any questions or concerns about recycling policies, they are encouraged to visit the township website at https://www.cherryhill-nj.com/, or contact the Department of Public Works at (856) 424-4422.