Municipalities across the country and state continue to address the issue of recycling, as foreign countries across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans no longer accept the importation of recyclable material.
As a result, the market within the United States has shifted and caused many local municipalities in South Jersey to remind residents of recycling guidelines in an effort to better help trash and recycling services deal with collected waste.
Fortunately, the issue of recycling has not yet impacted Berlin Borough. But other local towns in South Jersey have had to pay increased fees to get rid of recyclable material.
In some instances, that is due simply to the increased cost of dealing with recyclable material now that the market has shifted. In others, the topic of so-called contaminated recyclable material can increase the cost per ton for recycling services.
John Allsebrook, superintendent of the Department of Public Works, said the borough is currently in the midst of a contract with Camden County for the disposal of recyclable material at $5 per ton. The contract with Republic Services does not expire until April.
The expiration of the contract is followed by two, one-year extensions that would allow municipalities already in the existing contract to continue disposing their recyclable material for $5 per ton. Allsebrook says he expects the county to opt in for those extensions.
Additionally, the borough and other municipalities are not being charged for contaminated recyclable material, which is the inclusion of waste that cannot be recycled such as plastic bags, greasy pizza boxes and Styrofoam.
The borough, however, is still looking to decrease its percentage of contaminated recyclable material to help Republic Services; Allsebrook says he’s been made aware the company is losing significant money due to the process. To help, the borough hopes to consistently remind residents of recycling guidelines.
“We need to continue to educate our residents on the proper materials that Republic can accept,” Allsebrook explained. “We recently took a recycling guide that Republic Services has previously put out, and we put them on the top of recycling can lids for residents to be reminded of.”
The borough also has brought recycling guideline printouts to both Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Berlin Community schools so children can learn about the process and what can and cannot be accepted, to further help households recycle correctly.
“That’s what we’re hoping for; get this information to the young people and have them hopefully educate their parents on the topic,” Allsebrook said.
Moving forward, he expects the borough to stay with Camden County, as it likely will negotiate a new contract within the next two years. There is potential that the cost of recyclable material disposal may increase, due to the change in the way the process has worked over the past few years. Regardless, the reduction of unrecyclable materials in the single-stream process will help to make the process easier for both residents and the borough.