July 24, 2018 Blog Post:
Today’s Question: Does our Hudson County plastic really get recycled? Or burned? Or buried in a landfill? How much goes where?
For years I’ve wondered where the garbage, especially the plastic, that I bundle up in the trash bags goes to once it lands in the garbage truck. So finally I sat down and did some research. Here's what I learned:
Garbage is an expanding business!
There is Lincoln Recycling Services (https://www.lincolnrecyclingnj.com/ ) which just acquired Eagle Recycling of NJ. There is also Action Environmental Services. (http://actioncarting.com/ ) that recently acquired Interstate Waste Services. Both of these companies claim to be progressive and innovative processors of commercial, industrial and residential waste.
New technology, such as infrared machines, are being used to sort garbage. In researching, I noticed that some of the machines were designed and made in Europe, where they have been dealing with this issue for decades.
On the web site of Interstate Waste Service (Action Environmental Services) it says “The future of waste management lies in recycling and green initiatives. At Action’s state-of-the-art Material Recovery Facility (MRF), we engage in the automated processing of paper, cardboard, glass, plastic, and aluminum.” “Today, we keep more and more materials out of landfills through greater efficiency and leading-edge technology.”
The new technology helps remove the stuff that was not meant to be in the bin. For example, when you put plastic bags into the bottle recycling bin they jam up the machines at the processing plant. So we still need to sort our garbage properly to get it out faster!
After the garbage is sorted what happens?
If you want the bigger picture on where NJ’s trash goes, how much is burned and how much is recycled, See https://www.nj.gov/dep/dsr/trends/pdfs/solidwaste.pdf (Updated 8/2017) The second page shows how much has been recycled over the years. This looks like recycling is going well, but sadly municipal recycling has not yet reached 50%.
Unfortunately, there are forces at work who are opposed to recycling. If you read further, it says, “A major factor in the decline in recycling rate from the late-90s until recently was a 1997 federal court decision that led to the deregulation of the solid waste system in the State, which had given counties control over their waste flow and enabled them to fund significant recycling programs. The cessation of a state tax that supported the provision of grant monies to local recycling programs also led to less promotion of recycling. However, in 2008, the Recycling Enhancement Act was passed. This law assesses a tax of three dollars per ton of waste. Solid waste being transported out-of-state, either directly or by railroad, is also subject to the new recycling tax.”
OBVIOUSLY THERE’S STILL A BATTLE OVER RECYCLING!
It seems to me we now have the technology to better manage our mess. It’s about time. After decades of building trash mountains around our major cities, and after all those battles over trash trains and garbage barges dumping trash into the oceans, Americans are finally starting to understand the real need to reduce, reuse, and recycle. But we have a long way to go! Keep sorting your trash! Please support campaigns for recycling!
Let me know if you have another idea for me to research and post on my next blog by contacting me through the form below.
--Patricia Hilliard, Blogger, Author and Freelance Writer