Don't Get Caught Holding the Bag: Important Changes to Recycling Pick Ups in Clark


CLARK, NJ – Changes in the recycling industry have trickled down to Clark Township.  Starting immediately household recyclables will be subjected to stricter guidelines to qualify for curbside pickup.  Changes in the recycling industry are forcing cities and towns around the United States to set higher standards for recycling or face environmental burdens and possible fines according to Clark’s Business Administrator John Laezza.

In 2017 China, formerly a major importer of recyclables initiated a Green Sword policy which banned the import of some kinds of solid waste and set strict contamination limits on recyclable materials.   Contamination of recyclables is caused by food residue and non-recyclable items entering the system.  

 “When non-recyclable items (contamination) end up in your recycling loads, they have the potential to turn the entire load into trash and increase processing cost resulting in a contamination and/or service charge,” according to a letter from Giordano Company, Clark’s contractor for recycling.

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According to Jeffrey Bryk of Republic Service waste management, contaminants in the recycling stream result in machinery malfunctioning or shutting down.  The contaminants lead to increases in maintenance costs that get passed down to the clients or entire loads of recyclables being ineligible for export in the marketplace. 

Some of the top contaminants in curbside recycling today are:

  • Food
  • Latex Gloves
  • Batteries
  • Styrofoam
  • Ropes/Chains/Cordage
  • Diapers
  • Hard Cover Books
  • Clothes/Shoes
  • Plastic Bags

China’s policies are forcing recycling providers to push for quality, clean recycling and education for consumers so the market can maintain its value, contamination fees can be avoided and curbside pickups remain possible. 

When recyclables don’t have an end market, waste management storage facilities fill up very quickly which can put a halt on future pickups and impose huge price increases on municipalities according to Laezza.

Effective immediately Clark residents are required to:

  • Empty, clean and dry recyclables before putting them in curbside pails (no bags) with lid marked for recycling.  Wet recyclables are not marketable.
  • No plastic bags of any kind in the collection.  Visit to find drop off locations for plastic bags, films and wrapping.
  • Plastics #1 & #2 are the only plastics accepted for recycling.   No markets exist for #3 - #7.

Acceptable items in recycling:

  • Plastic Bottles & Containers - Bottles codes with #1 or #2 on bottom. 
  • Mixed Papers -Paper, Newspapers, Magazines, Junk Mail, Catalogs, & Phone books. 
  • Cans - Aluminum and Steel (tin) Cans and Lids.
  • Glass Bottles and Jars - All Shapes, Sizes, and Colors.
  • Cardboard - Corrugated, cereal, & clean pizza boxes.
  • Cartons - Milk, Juice, & Food cartons. 


Not Acceptable items for recycling:

Plastic Bags - do not bag your recycles or place bags in bin.. 

  • Styrofoam - Styrofoam cannot be recycled curbside. 
  • Dishware, Glass, & Mirrors - These items can be thrown in regular garbage. 
  • Dirty Pizza Boxes - Boxes cannot contain leftover food or grease. 
  • Shredded Paper - Place shredded paper in regular garbage.
  • Pots, Pans, and Small Appliances.
  • Plastic Bottles & Containers not coded #1 or #2, and Plastic Ware.






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