Cape May, Lower consider single stream recycling

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Cape May and Lower Township are among the latest of the 16 municipalities in Cape May County to hear the county’s pitch to have single stream recycling in place by next spring.

The Cape May County Municipal Utilities Authority first made its argument for the switch in June, presenting the plan that would eliminate the need to separate recyclables for processing at the Conference of Cape May County Mayors on June 8.

Single stream – or “fully commingled” or “single sort” – recycling refers to a system where papers, plastics, metals and glass are mixed in the collection and recycling processes. Cape May County currently relies on “dual stream” recycling, which requires mixed paper fibers be sorted and kept separate from commingled glass and metal containers.

Cape May and Lower each had the item on their respective agendas, with CMCMUA’s Solid Waste Program manager John R. Baron presenting on the issue at Lower’s Monday night meeting and scheduled for Cape May’s Tuesday afternoon work session. That meeting was after this paper’s press time.

The switch from dual stream to single stream recycling in other municipalities in New Jersey has been shown to increase the quality of the materials recycled, and increased recycling conserves additional natural resources, conserves energy, reduces pollution and extends the life of the Cape May County’s only operating landfill, according to Lower Township’s resolution supporting the change over from an “intermediate processing facility” to the single stream recycling.

The resolution’s language also indicated that increased recycling “can present the potential for each of the county’s municipalities to receive additional revenue in rebates from CMCMUA, and from the state,” as well providing for reduced tipping fees for every additional ton of waste that is recycled.

“The recycling program depends upon education and cooperation, with the knowledge that every ton recycled is one ton less headed for a landfill, which is kinder on the environment as well as the township's wallet,” said Mayor Michael Beck. “As part of our education program, we will contact our residents with a robo call – reverse 911 – which if done at the beginning of tourist season will ensure knowledge of our rules are being given to the residents and visitors.”

Charles Norkis, executive director of the CMCMUA, said county’s recycling center will need a $3.7 million overhaul to complete the switch to single stream. County officials waited until the equipment in use was ready for replacement before seeking the changeover.

Beck said that Lower will continue to use its current trucks for recycling pickup, but noted that replacements for the recycling vehicles in use by the township will be some $35,000 cheaper with the changeover to single stream because of the need for only one compartment in the back.

According to CMCMUA records, Lower Township sent 2,371 tons of paper materials to and 1,358 tons of commingled glass, metal and plastics to be recycled in 2011. The 2011 numbers were slightly lower than those in 2010.

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