MILLBURN, NJ - Giordano Co., Millburn Township’s solid waste and recycling hauler, will no longer accept plastic bags in curbside recycling collections. All recyclables in plastic bags will be left at the curb. If a collection is left curbside it is the owner’s responsibility to move items into a container specifically labeled for recycling.

Although single-use plastic bags may depict a recycling symbol, they are not recyclable in a single-stream facility. They jam the equipment, and many facilities spend 1-2 hours per day removing plastic bags from the machinery. Plastic bags are one of the largest sources of contamination at recycling facilities. Waste Management, where the Township’s recyclables are processed, diverts the bags and their contents to a landfill and can assess a $175 per ton fee on loads containing excess contamination. Plastic bags can either be recycled at a local supermarket or disposed of in the trash. 

The new directive comes in response to changes in the recycling market. The United States, until recently, sent roughly 30% of its recycling exports to the Chinese market. Due to rising contamination rates, China instituted a contamination rate of 0.5% for accepted materials. In the short term this has led to higher costs for processing recyclables, leading to a renewed effort towards a cleaner recycling stream for which a market can be found. 

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A communal effort is required to eliminate contamination from our recycling stream and recycle materials at the curb that can only processed in single-stream facilities. Municipalities across the country are altering their recycling programs to meet the demands of the changing market, and more changes may be forthcoming.

Remember to Recycling Right: 

Bottles & cans, mixed paper, cardboard, and glass can all be recycled in single-stream collections. Items must be placed loosely, clean, and dry in a reusable container. For more information on the Township’s recycling program visit twp.millburn.nj.us/recycling.