Recycling - It Makes Environmental, Social and Economic Sense

Q: WHY does Montclair recycle?

A: Recycling is the law in Montclair, but just as important are the economic, environmental, and societal benefits.

Pat Brechka, Director, MRCARecycling exemplifies the Township of Montclair’s commitment to sustainability, which means meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Sustainability combines the three “E”s of economic responsibility, environmental stewardship, and equitable social justice.

Montclair generates as much as 15,000 tons of garbage (“refuse”) every year. Currently we pay approximately $85 per ton to dump that refuse at the Essex County Incinerator. We avoid those costs by recycling the Mixed Paper and Commingled material from our refuse.

Last year, Montclair recycled around 4,000 tons of mixed paper, earning us almost $40,000. If we had instead sent the paper with the rest of our garbage to be burned, it would have cost us over $300,000. That means Montclair taxpayers saved over one-third of a million dollars ($333,000) by recycling our paper instead of “throwing it all away”.

However, paper is still the largest single category of Montclair’s refuse. In spite of our excellent recycling program, not everyone is doing their part, and so as much as one-third of our refuse, more than 5,000 tons, is still recyclable mixed paper.

Since that paper isn’t being recycled (earning us about $15 per ton) and is instead being burned (costing us around $85 per ton), the result is a net loss of about $100 per ton. That means we are paying $425,000 to burn something that is actually worth $75,000! In other words, we are wasting over $500,000, every year.

Talk about burning your own money.

We must all recycle as much paper as possible and not throw any away. We are doing well, but we can do better.

As for Commingled recyclables (metal/glass/plastic bottles & cans), we currently earn $5/ton for disposal. Additionally, we avoid the $85 tipping fee as garbage, so Montclair saves $90 for every ton of Commingled we recycle.

Additionally, all towns earn back recycling tonnage grants from the state, another incentive for us to recycle as much as possible. Therefore, from a strictly economic perspective, Montclair’s taxpayers benefit substantially if we “earn instead of burn”.

Plus, the environmental benefits are considerable. Recycling substantially reduces energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. That’s because manufacturing with recycled materials conserves valuable resources and, with very few exceptions, saves energy and water and produces less air and water pollution than manufacturing with virgin materials, far outweighing the energy created as by-products of incineration and landfilling.

Also, social justice and fairness should be considered in our personal solid waste decisions. Montclair’s garbage is burned at the Essex County incinerator in the Ironbound section of Newark, near someone else’s backyard. The asthma rate there is one of the highest in our country. Responsible handling of all the things we discard from our homes reduces the significant health and quality-of-life impacts on neighboring communities.

Finally, recycling has produced over 27,000 private sector jobs in our state. Over 2,000 New Jersey businesses are dependent on materials that our citizens separate for recycling. Recycling a ton of solid waste produces 3 times the number of jobs that are produced by simply disposing of those materials.

For these many reasons, the Township of Montclair encourages all residents to reduce, reuse, recycle, and compost as much of their household waste as possible. Disposal options for almost every household item can be found in our "A - Z Disposal Guide."

Reducing
Waste Prevention, also known as source reduction, means using less material and less toxics to get a job done. Waste prevention methods help to create less waste in the first place - before recycling. If residents, businesses and institutions take a good look at both their refuse and their recycling, they are likely to see ways to reduce waste through wiser shopping choices, such as purchasing items with minimal packaging, buying in bulk, and replacing disposable products with durable, reusable items. This can save money while decreasing disposal costs for the municipality and the amount of materials to be recycled.

Reusing
Residents of Montclair have many options to reuse, give away, and share a wide variety of items, from bikes and books to clothes and computers. Contact Montclair’s Office of Environmental Affairs at (973) 509-5721 for a list of reuse opportunities.

Recycling
For instructions about what, when, how, and why to recycle in Montclair: in the left-hand column, download our "Handy Guide to Recycling".

Composting
The Township of Montclair supports backyard composting by providing information to residents on how to successfully composting leaves, grass clippings, yard trimmings, garden prunings and certain kitchen scraps. Residents may also purchase home compost bins at cost from the Office of Environmental Affairs by calling (973) 509-5721. In addition, Environmental Affairs hosts an annual Compost GiveBack in the fall, enabling residents to pick up free compost, buy the low-cost bins, and attend free compost demonstrations. For further information call the Compost Hotline, (“The Rotline”), at (973) 509-5721.

For further recycling information, please feel free to contact us anytime.

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Environmental Affairs
205 Claremont Avenue, Montclair, New Jersey 07042
Tel. #: (973) 509-5721; Fax #: (973) 509-1479
Email: grussell@montclairnjusa.org