New Jerseyans have been recycling household waste since 1987, when the Legislature passed the Statewide Mandatory Source Separation and Recycling Act. In 2011, the rate of household recycling was the highest — 40 percent — since 1998.
Although the goal of the program is 50 percent, the average rate across the country is 35 percent. (Total recycling of all forms of New Jersey waste — including constructive and vegetative — is 60 percent.)
Those municipalities and counties that do a good job of recycling are rewarded with state recycling grants, this year totaling $18.6 million, by the state Department of Environmental Protection. These grants, $13.1 million of which went to towns and the rest to counties, are expected to help finance recycling and compliance programs.
The grant program is funded by a $3 per ton surcharge on trash disposed of at solid waste facilities across the state. In 2011, New Jersey generated more than 9.9 million tons of municipal solid waste from homes, schools, hospitals and businesses.
Some of the state’s largest municipalities got the largest grants: Newark ($228,379), Paterson ($222,858), Toms River ($179,204), and Edison ($167,267). But smaller towns such as Ridgewood, Randolph, and Monroe were cited for leadership. Ridgewood had a municipal solid-waste rate of 77 percent; Randolph, 68 percent; and Monroe, 59 percent. Other towns didn’t do as well in relation to their population. Here’s a complete list of municipalities that received grants.