Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Teaching Your Residents the Three R's

In our highly disposable society, how people and communities deal with their trash is of vital importance to both individuals and their communities as a whole. The tri-state area produces a staggering amount of garbage every day, and recycling is one method of lessening the environmental impact of that garbage, as well as lowering costs and improving public health and sanitation. Many co-op and condo boards outline their recycling plans within the governing documents, though to get residents to actively recycle, more proactive steps often need to be taken.

Processing a Nation's Trash

New Jersey has had voluntary recycling programs since 1971. "But," says Marie Kruzan, executive director of the Association of New Jersey Recyclers, a private, nonprofit organization in Bridgewater, "The way the state law is written it's a mandatory sort-and-separation law, with three mandated materials." Those three primary materials vary between counties and individual communities, and are determined by each area's specific need and the nature of their garbage output.

According to Guy Watson, bureau chief of recycling and planning for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in Trenton, "Individual counties choose which materials will get recycled. Most have chosen the same basic materials, which are newspapers and a certain amount of junk mail, as well as bottles and cans and some plastics in the residential sector." Watson adds that in the commercial sector, a big recyclable is office paper.

Whether commercial or residential, one type of waste mandated for recycling statewide since 1987 is leaves and yard waste. It's against the law to bring leaves or yard waste to a landfill, and each county's recycling plan has to let residents of each town know where their municipality collects organic materials for composting.

Watson says that New Jersey's recycling protocols "date back to former governor Burns' administration in the late 1970s. He convened a task force—the New Jersey Recycling Forum—and they were charged with issuing a report on the recycling policy." Their report, which was called Recycling in the 1980s, came out in late 1979, and recommended that the state adopt a 25 percent voluntary recycling goal as state policy.


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  • I'll weigh in with some comments about some rceent postings on the blog, in an effort to clear up some misconceptions and to make some suggestions on how to proceed.Elisha: absolutely show your support to the municipalities and the county for funding the subsidies that will be essential to any government run recycling program. The time to do so is getting severely limited, however, as annual budgets are nearing completion. The budgets must be finalized by the end of the year, and most jurisdictions (I believe, knowing that Granby does) try to get that work done sooner. I know that Granby's board is very aware of the community's support for improving the recycling situation, but all budgeting entities need to know how much money is needed and how the program will be administered. Without that knowledge, we (as local governments) can't budget. We can put aside some funding, but it would be a shot in the dark as to whether it would be enough to get the job done. That's why the RFP process is a critical step.I suspect that if the private sector can develop a better system (e.g. curbside pick up), there will costs to the refuse producers (us) in the form of fees or fee increases for the service. We have to be willing to pay the price for the service no matter what system evolves out of this dialog.Kevin: The Town of Granby also ponied up money when Valley Recycling came to us for a subsidy, but the more important thing to realize about how we got to where we are today is this: Grand County and Grand Recycles ran the old system, combining extensive volunteer time commitments, funding from the county and the towns, money from the sale of the recycled materials (always a volatile item), and massive in-kind services (hauling to Denver) also donated by the county. Valley Recycling came to the county and represented that VR could take over the program and be able to make a profit. The County Commissioners jumped at the chance to reduce their expenditures of funds and in-kind contributions; and here we are. Whether or not the VR proposal was realistic can be questioned, but I have no doubt that it was presented in good faith. My sense is that the towns and county will contribute money, but there needs to be a plan and one that is truly realistic.The hard/cold facts are that recycled materials are not stable markets, and some sort of funding will be needed to keep a comprehensive program operating. VR did receive some support from local governments to subsidize the operation, but it obviously has not been enough. Kevin makes some excellent suggestions, and I particularly like the building materials re-use idea. BUT (there's always a but ), it takes resources ($$$, time, etc.) to make a center like that work. The materials don't sort themselves. Through a process of discussion and planning, reasonable people should be able to develop a workable plan. So, Kevin, stay engaged and keep those ideas coming.Gretchen: I've been to the Summit County Landfill and have had a number of conversations with local government officials about their operation. The last time I checked the recycling of wood fiber consists of grinding it into chips and piling up massive heaps of the material, with no clear idea of what to do next. The proposal to heat the Summit Cty. Commons with that biomass proved to be economically unfeasible, so the piles continue to grow. I hope your research will turn up some better news! There is some hope that the 2 pellet plants approved for Kremmling might help in disposing of the wood fiber, but in some meetings I've attended I've heard that the construction waste may not be suitable. Contamination with metals (nails, etc.) may be the problem there.An update on the RFP working group would be helpful at this juncture. See ya'll at the landfill (for the time being),Ted Wang
  • The best option to fit here is water which is thrown(wasted) and can fall in all the three categories " Reduce, Reuse, Recycle " 1. It can be calculated where the water is used in daily activities and its consumption can be checked from water bills 2. Mostly we tend to waste the water after single use and can some part of the same can be reutilised. like the water from bathroom sink, showerhead, bath tub, laundry and some from kitchen. In order to reduce the consumption some baqsic ways like voluntary avoiding the wastage- turning the tap off when not in use- during brushing and shaving, checking for leaks can be inculcated in daily life. The water generated from bathroom sink, showerhead, bath tub, laundry and some from kitchen is called as grey water and can be reutilised in non pottable uses like watering the plants or flushing.