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News & Information

Separate and Recycle!

Release Date: January 28, 2008
Recycling is once again a hot issue because of State regulations, the new County Solid Waste Management Plan Amendment 2007, and the rising cost of raw materials.

Find Your Local Recycling Schedule

Separate and Recycle!

By Barry Fisher

Recycling is once again a hot issue because of State regulations, the new County Solid Waste Management Plan Amendment 2007, and the rising cost of raw materials. A new Plan describes the County's strategy to recycle and specifically lists our responsibilities.

The State recently certified (in part) the County's new "Solid Waste Management Plan Amendment 2007". This Plan outlines a strategy for handling all solid waste in the County, which includes trash, demolition waste, and unusable equipment. The largest portion of the Plan consists of rules that are intended to increase recycling.

We all know the purpose behind recycling: to reduce waste by reusing raw materials in the things that we throw away. When you consider that nearly everything we buy comes in a package or container that must be thrown out, this raw material is considerable. Recycling is economically valuable as the cost of raw materials has become very volatile, including the oil used in plastics. In fact, the State requires that every County fully recover 50% of the type of raw materials that we might otherwise throw in a garbage can and put at the curb. Unfortunately, recycling rates are at roughly half of that State requirement.

This Plan outlines a strategy to bring recycling rates to 50%. To achieve this, the vast majority of recyclable materials listed below must be separated from regular, landfill-destined "garbage" when they are thrown away. So, instead of using one receptacle for trash, we all need to have -conveniently located- three receptacles for paper, containers, and non-recyclables as needed. The responsibility for separating what we throw out and keeping these items separated rests on all of us.

The recovery of raw materials is good for the County. First, our Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority landfill is expected to be full within ten years. After ten years, another solution for our solid waste must be found - this has yet to be determined. Secondly, our stewardship of solid waste is linked to the beauty of our landscape. Perhaps it could be no better said than in this sample of children?s renderings recently posted in the lobby of the County Administration Center:

Recycling poster  Recycling poster

Lastly, recycling is required by State Law. Designated recyclable materials may not be mixed with other waste. The following materials are "Designated" in the Plan:
  • Newsprint
  • Corrugated Cardboard
  • Magazines and Junk Mail, Office Paper
  • Containers: Recycling logo #1 Plastic, #2 Plastic, Tin and Bimetal Cans, glass (including colored)
  • Aluminum pans, cans & pie plates
  • Old clothing
  • Tires
  • Motor Oil

Additional materials must be recycled by "Non-Residential" generators, which includes businesses, schools, hospitals, colleges, and other institutions. These are listed in Chapter 8 in the Plan.

The Plan is on the County website, (or select "Planning Division" from the "Departments" link on the home page.) We also welcome you to attend Solid Waste Advisory Committee (SWAC) meetings, held on most second Tuesdays of the month (or the first Tuesday in February) at 7:30 in the first floor of the County Administration Center at One Spring Street, Newton. These meetings are open to the public and need representation by municipalities.