BELMAR, NJ — After a bumpy beginning last week, Belmar officials are hoping for a smoother road ahead when the Department of Public Works’ recycling crew rolls out on January 13.

Much of the confusion during last Monday’s first recycling collection by Public Works employees was over the size and weight of the filled containers — the reason why some cans were not initially emptied.

Since workers are using trash scooters for collection, they need to manually lift and dump each can into the scooter’s bin, which stands about five feet high. When the cans are too large, weigh too much or both, it makes emptying each can that more difficult.

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As a result, residents are being asked to comply with the borough’s recycling ordinance — or face having their recyclables left at the curb. According to these rules:

■  Recycling containers should not exceed 32 gallons in capacity and 50 pounds in weight, and have tight-fitting lids.

■  Each household is allowed a maximum of five 32-gallon containers per pickup.

While blue recycling containers are not required under the ordinance, borough officials said it would be extremely helpful to use blue containers so that it is easier to differentiate recycling cans from regular trash containers. This would pertain particularly to residents in Zone 1 — from Ocean Avenue to B Street — where garbage and recycling collection both fall on Monday.

If they are not blue in color, marking recycling cans with a recycling decal or in some other way is encouraged.

In addition, cans with lids are required since wet recyclables add more weight — and potentially result in the contents exceeding the 50-pound weight limit.

“There were some hiccups here and there," said Mayor Mark Walsifer at the January 7 council meeting, the day after the recycling changes took effect. "As we work to streamline this, we are looking to save the borough a lot of money, It’s going to take us a few weeks to get everything under control, but we are working on it.”

Last November, the borough decided to bring recycling collection in house after Tinton Falls-based DeLisa Demolition Inc. submitted the only bid for a new contract that reflected a triple-digit hike in recycling costs over five years.

Rather than ink the proposed $1.1 million pact — nearly 193 percent higher from its last $377,688 contract with DeLisa — borough officials crunched their numbers and have projected a cost savings of $845,000 over the same period if the borough took over recycling collection.

READ MORE: Belmar to Dump $1.1 Million Recycling Bid, Move Curbside Collection to Public Works

Public Works Director Michael Campbell said that some 27,647 tons of recyclables and 1,500 pounds of cardboard were collected during the first week. In addition, 250 warning stickers were placed on containers not in compliance with borough ordinance, particularly when it came to the weight of the cans. Some oversized containers were so heavy that two workers could not lift them, he added. 

“A lot of stuff was out there, and we did our best. We're just trying to make it easier,” Campbell told the audience during last week’s council meeting. “The guys worked hard and we’re trying to save money. (Have) patience. We will make mistakes, but we will do better.”

The borough’s recycling crew consists of eight public works employees — five operating the scooters — and three on a standard rear-load garbage truck, including the driver. In addition, there are two shifts of workers assigned to recycling to avoid overtime hours. For example, if workers in the first shift, who begin around 5:30 a.m., do not finish collection, those in the second shift, who start several hours later, will take over to finish collection, Campbell explained. 

He also stressed that workers will be making a conscious effort to ensure cans are placed back at the curb — and not in front of driveways — and loose paper and other materials are picked up and not left to litter the streets.

In addition, the weekly recycling day was moved from Wednesday to Monday — in preparation for the busy summer season to ensure that recyclables left by weekend visitors on Sunday are picked up the next day.

Campbell also reminded residents to make sure that their collection receptacles are out at the curb by no later than 6 a.m. on Monday and also encouraged them to use the Recycling Coach app, which provides recycling and garbage collection schedules based on addresses, as well as information on recycling rules, including what is and what is not recyclable. Click here to visit the Belmar website where there is information on Recycling Coach and to obtain the free app from the Apple and Google Play stores.

For more information about recycling or regular trash collection, call the public works department at 732-681-0452 or email DPW@belmar.com.

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