FAIR LAWN, NJ - If you received a notice rejecting the pickup of your recycling at some point this summer, you were not alone.
Social media comments upset about the matter prompted Recycling Coordinator Ron Lotterman to post 13 reasons why the enforcement seems to be on the uptick.
"The Recycling Division is doing the enforcement and tagging the barrels when they have items we don’t take as part of our program," Lotterman said. "Basically the issue is plastics and scrap metal."
He defined plastics as bottles, jugs and jars; and metals as tin and aluminum cans only.
If a resident has scrap metal, which is any item with more than 50% metal, it can be dropped off at the Recycling Center or call the Recycling Office to schedule a pick up: 201-794-5341.
Unacceptable plastics are to go in the garbage.
So what is acceptable? The borough has a sheet with photos of the items you can recycle. Describing them here does not do the list justice. Recommended is to print the flyer and hang it up at home to be clear on what you can recycle. Click here for the flyer on what you can recycle in your commingle pail.
Lotterman's 13-point recycling post:
"As much as I understand your frustration about the warnings issued this week for recycling violations, please try and understand the rationale for making these decisions.
1. This is a national issue due to the Pacific Rim countries rejecting ship loads of recycling due to contamination. China started this about 5 years ago and the regulations get tighter every year. Right now the regulations prohibit more than 0.5% of contamination in a load.
2. The change in recycling regulations happened in May 2018. There was an update to the regulations in October 2018, which ADDED the wax coated cartons into the bottles/cans mix. We were doing enforcement last year as well.
3. The 2019 Recycling Handbook has the correct guidelines for what goes in the bottles/cans mix. The handbook was mailed to every resident in December 2018 with the Borough Calendar.
4. We are aware that other towns have not updated their websites and may not even be doing enforcement on the recycling issue. They are subject to paying higher fees and/or penalties for their contaminated recycling. Many of them are paying up to $65.00 per ton for bottles/cans recycling. Fair Lawn, due to our efforts to keep the contamination out, is currently not paying anything. If you wish to "throw it all away" then consider that what money we could save (garbage tipping fee is about $69.00 per ton) will be thrown away. That is your tax dollars in real money. A cleaner product will also give us more bidders when we negotiate the new contract that expires on 12/31 of this year. More bidders = better pricing.
5. The Recycling Division doesn't have a quota for issuing warnings. Any comment to that point is speaking from ignorance. I would prefer to check every barrel and have them in compliance so I issue no warnings.
6. The Borough ordinance does NOT require warnings to be issued. We can issue summonses, but I choose not to. My goal is to educate and get compliance for the benefit of all parties in this issue.
7. The Recycling phone number is posted on the stickers, warnings, recycling handbook and other places. We are happy to answer your questions on the phone or via e-mail (email@example.com). This information is also posted on the Borough website: www.fairlawn.org/recycling.
8. The recycling triangle that is on most plastic packaging is not a criteria for recycling in our program. Keurig is currently being sued for this very issue as their pods cannot be recycled in any recycling program. (Keurig suit:
https://www.cbsnews.com/…/keurig-coffee-pods-not-recyclabl…/) The companies producing these things have to start taking responsibility for their contributing to this issue.
9. What can you do?
Recycle right so the materials that can be recycled will be recycled and not thrown in a landfill.
Purchasing choices can help reduce the amount of plastics you have to discard and also your dollars vote in the eyes of the manufacturers. Ex. take a reusable cup into your favorite coffee shop for them to fill rather than using a styrofoam or plastic cup.
Write to the manufacturers. Tell them you want sustainable packaging!
10. I am the one responsible for deciding to do this enforcement. This decision did NOT come from the Mayor, Council, Borough Manager or DPW Superintendent - all of whom are my supervisors. What I can say is that they have been supportive of my efforts to make Fair Lawn's recycling program one of the best in the State.
11. The Recycling Center has the same regulations as the curbside recycling collection. All of the materials go to the same markets. Bringing the unacceptable materials to the Center just contaminates those containers. Please do not do that.
12. Our inspectors do make mistakes and are trying their best to accurately mark what they see on the warning notices. We have generic categories. Plastic bags also include plastic wrap, such as around plastic water bottle cases. In creating all of our materials we have given credit to the fact that your are intelligent people who can understand this.
13. What strange things have we found in recycling?
- half a cooked chicken
- pots & pans
- children's toys
- window blinds
- car parts
- coffee maker
- knives (carving, exacto, kitchen)
- cigarette packs
- VHS tapes
- bowling balls
- golf clubs
Finally, thank you for your efforts to make recycling work in Fair Lawn. Thank you for understanding that this is a necessity to get the contamination out of the recycling.
(Posted by Ron Lottermann, Recycling Coordinator)