PATERSON, NJ- Reduced recycling rates, Mayor Andre Sayegh said at a press conference on Thursday, means less green for Paterson, in more way than one.

While the city has struggled to fill budget holes year after year it has also lost more than 300 tonnes of cardboard, newspaper, and commingled recycling since 2014, costing local coffers in the form of increased tipping fees and lowered payments from the State of New Jersey for successful efforts to properly dispose of these types of waste.

Sayegh pointed to the failure of Mayor Joey Torres to keep the city’s Environmental Commission active while announcing that he would reactivate it with a full compliment of members in the coming weeks. Current city statute, the passage of which Sayegh spearheaded eight years ago while serving on the city council, calls for seven members to be appointed by the mayor and two alternates to be appointed by the legislative body.

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“We are going to get people involved (in recycling) again,” Sayegh declared. “This effort is about engaging the community, empowering our youth, and improving the quality of life.”

As he has been during previous Sayegh press conferences related to making the community cleaner Police Director Jerry Speziale took a turn at the microphone to speak the virtues of “crime prevention through environmental design,” which, in paying homage to the “broken windows theory” boils down to cleaner streets mean safer streets. 

“If you don’t keep the streets clean people think you don’t care, ” Speziale said.

“Six years ago people told us they wanted to recycle,” Councilwoman Ruby Cotton said before offering a reminder that through an aggressive door-to-door effort comprised largely of local youth, over 5,000 blue recycling bins were distributed across the city. The purchase of another 600 bins was approved by the council on Tuesday.

Citing examples of outsiders coming into Paterson to pick up recyclable materials that aren’t disposed of properly, and later benefiting financially from the waste, Councilman Luis Velez said that “we have to keep those revenues in Paterson,” something he worked on before serving on the city council as well as during his time as the body’s Department of Public Works chairman.

“Working together is going to make Paterson better,” Velez said.