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Montclair Township

Environmental Affairs Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is recycling voluntary or mandatory in Montclair?
Recycling has been required by law in the Township of Montclair since 1978 and by New Jersey State Law since 1987.

2. Can I recycle any plastic that has a recycling sign and number on it?
No. Montclair’s recycling vendor only accepts plastic bottles, jugs or food containers marked with numbers “1” or “2” inside the recycling symbol (a triangle of arrows printed on the bottom). Virtually all plastic bottles are acceptable.

Most other plastic food containers are not numbered “1” or “2”, and therefore would not be acceptable, so you should check those numbers. If it is not numbered “1” or “2” inside the recycling symbol, our vendor won’t take it and that means we cannot collect it.
* Note: Currently, Whole Foods accepts clean plastic containers marked #5!

3. Do I have to worry about labels?
No. You can leave labels on bottles and cans.

4. Do I have to separate glass, plastic, and aluminum?
No. We call all metal, glass and plastic bottles and cans the same thing, “Commingled”, and you can put them all into the same "Bottles and Cans" recycling bin.

5. What do I do with plastic bags?
Plastic bags are not accepted by our vendor, so they contaminate our recycling mix and cannot be collected. Therefore they also cannot be used as containers for your recyclables. A&P, King’s, Whole Foods, and Pathmark supermarkets currently accept plastic shopping bags for recycling (check with them for specifics).

6. What do I do with bottle caps?
Before tossing your plastic or glass bottle into the recycling bin, be sure to empty the bottle and then remove the cap and discard it. Caps are made of a different material than bottles, so the caps are not recyclable with our recycling vendor. Also, removal of the cap allows for evaporation and prevents retention of residual liquid. Extra liquid causes a number of problems: it contaminates the other recyclables; it adds weight, which adds to the energy (and fossil fuel emissions) necessary to transport the recyclables; it can also cause injuries in the recycling plant.

7. Can I recycle envelopes with plastic windows? What about staples or paper clips?
You'll like the answer to this one; all of these items are fine to toss into the "Paper" recycling bin. In the recycling process, all paper, even the glossy, is converted to pulp, and all non-natural fibers such as metal will be strained out. So don't waste your time removing staples, spiral bindings, or plastic windows!

8. Can I recycle paper with tape on it?
Heavy duct tape or electrical tape are not recyclable. It's OK to leave a little transparent adhesive tape on paper; however, too much can gum up machines and reduce the efficiency of recycling. Try to remove obvious tape from papers and posters before recycling...but again, don't waste your time scraping a little “Scotch” tape off of paper!

9. Why can't I recycle pizza boxes?
The actual cardboard of the pizza boxes is recyclable; it is the food residue that is almost sure to have seeped into the cardboard that the recycling company doesn't want. When recycling collectors see a food-soaked item in a cardboard recycling bin, they may assume that the entire bin is "contaminated;" they can't take the time to sort out the good and the bad cardboard. We have to provide them with clean, ready-to-recycle products!

10. What if I don't have a “Recycling” bin?
You don't need a “special” recycling bin to deposit your recyclables at the curb for weekly collection in Montclair. Recycling containers must simply be made of rigid plastic or metal, with handles, no larger than 35 gallons. Any container with these characteristics will work; if you mark one “Paper” and the other “Commingled” (or “Bottles and Cans”) you will help make the curbside collection more efficient.
Mixed Paper must be in separate containers from Commingled recyclables. Please cover all containers.

11. How important is it that I prepare recyclables correctly?
It is very important to prepare items correctly before placing them out for recycling. This means:
* Flatten and tie corrugated cardboard; if you don't, it can easily blow away;
* Simply empty all bottles and cans: you do not have to scrub them!
* Remove bottle caps (so that residue can evaporate and not add weight and mess).
If recyclables are not properly prepared, or if the proper containers are not used, we cannot collect them.

12. What should I do with my old computer (I know I shouldn't just throw it away)?
Any old, obsolete, or unwanted consumer electronics can be brought every Saturday to Montclair’s Recycling Center at the DCS Yard, 219 No. Fullerton Avenue, during regular hours from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM.

Residents may bring computer components, including laptops, monitors, central processing units (CPUs), keyboards, mice, mainframes, and peripherals such as circuit boards, disc drives, integrated circuits (ICs), modems, processors, tape drives, networking equipment, and wires and cables. Plus, all TVs (no big-screens or consoles), cell phones and telephone equipment, printers, copiers, fax machines, VCRs, CD or DVD players, electronic video games, camcorders, stereo equipment and radios may be dropped off.
The new year-round drop-off program is a significant additional service, and will enable us to dramatically reduce the volume of electronic equipment being discarded.

There’s no longer any excuse for putting a computer monitor or TV set at the curb. Starting next year, computers and TVs will be prohibited from disposal as garbage or bulky waste.

13. How can I compost in Montclair?
All of the leaves and grass clippings that Montclair residents bag and drag to the curb (in biodegradable paper yard trimmings bags) are collected curbside by the Township and hauled out of town to a large-scale professional composting facility, where they are turned into compost, a valuable soil amendment, which is sold to landscapers.

However, as part of a comprehensive municipal waste prevention program, the Township also encourages homeowners to “keep it off the curb” by promoting a smart, beneficial yard care program that reduces yard waste and also improves properties.
Since 2001, Montclair has actively supported backyard composting through an on-going Home Composting Program. The Office of Environmental Affairs provides both written as well as phone information to residents on how to successfully compost leaves, grass clippings, yard trimmings, garden prunings and certain kitchen scraps.

Residents may also purchase low-cost home composting bins – at cost – simply by calling the Compost Information Hotline (“The Rotline”) at (973) 509-5721, or by emailing This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and making an appointment for a pick-up. Finding new ways of diverting waste from disposal, capturing valuable materials and protecting health, while reducing energy use and saving money, are all components of a waste prevention, reuse, recycling and composting program that is cost-effective, energy-efficient, and smart.

14. How do I recycle my old household appliances?

Household Appliances – also known as “White Goods” – include items used in your home such as clothes washers, clothes dryers, automatic dishwashing machines, stoves, hot water heaters, refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, and window fans.

Collection of most of these items is easy: simply call the Department of Community Services (DCS) at 973-509-5711 on weekdays between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. to schedule a free curbside pick-up of your household appliances. DCS will agree with you on a date for your collection day.

Note: Three of these items – refrigerators, freezers, and air conditioners – contain chemical refrigerants called CFCs, which DCS must have removed by a certified technician. A portion of that cost – $10, paid in advance – must be passed on to those residents requesting pick-up of their refrigerators, freezers, or air conditioners.

To schedule a collection of those three items residents must go to the DCS offices at 219 No. Fullerton Avenue, second floor. There, residents can purchase the proper sticker for $10 and also schedule their date for curbside collection. They then return home and place the sticker on the appliance for collection.

Household appliances must be placed at the curb no earlier than 5:00 p.m. on the day preceding their scheduled pick-up and no later than 6:00 a.m. on the collection day. Items placed after 6:00 a.m. of the scheduled day may be missed, which will require a new appointment.

NEW from the NJ Board of Public Utility’s (BPU) Office of Clean Energy “Refrigerator/Freezer Recycling Program” You'd be amazed at what your old refrigerator can save.

The 2010 Refrigerator/Freezer Recycling program is an exciting initiative from New Jersey's Clean Energy Program. This program promotes responsible recycling of working refrigerators and freezers in New Jersey and offers a $50 cash incentive. Recycling your old refrigerator/freezer is easy, and you can earn money too. It's simple. Here's how:

• To arrange for a free pick up of your old refrigerator/freezer call 877-270-3520, or, schedule online at (JACO Environmental).

• Get $50 cash back for recycling responsibly once your transaction is processed.

Residents can save up to $150 a year on energy costs by recycling an old fridge. To participate in this program:

Refrigerator and/or freezer must be in working condition at time of pick up.
• You must be a New Jersey resident and a customer of PSE&G.
• You must own the refrigerator or freezer being recycled.
• Your refrigerator or freezer must be between 10 and 30 cubic feet in size.
• Limit two units per residential address.
• You must provide clear and safe access to your appliances for the removal team. They will not risk injury or be able to move personal effects or modify your home (e.g.: remove door or railings) to remove the unit(s).
• Valid for period from July 15, 2009 through December 31, 2010. Unit must be picked up within this time frame.
• Restrictions may apply. Incentives are processed within 90-120 days.