December 20, 2019

Contact: Lawrence Hajna (609) 292-2994
Caryn Shinske (609) 984-1795


(19/P102) TRENTON – The Department of Environmental Protection is awarding more than $14 million in grants to municipal and county governments to enhance recycling efforts, Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe announced today.

The annual recycling tonnage grants are awarded through the state’s Recycling Enhancement Act, which authorizes a $3 per-ton surcharge on trash disposed at solid waste facilities to fund recycling efforts. The DEP allocates this money back to municipalities and counties based on their recycling accomplishments. This year’s grants are based on recycling performance in 2017.

photo “Recycling remains an important way for residents to help protect the environment,” Commissioner McCabe said. “Recycling conserves resources, reduces the amount of trash that is sent to solid waste facilities, and helps reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. These grants will fund efforts that have become even more important as we look for ways to address changes and challenges in recycling markets that are occurring across the nation.”

Each year, recipients use these grants to improve recycling rates through a variety of initiatives, including funding recycling coordinator positions, providing recycling receptacles and pickup in public places, upgrading recycling drop-off centers, conducting education and outreach, and implementing curbside recycling pickup programs.

In 2017, New Jersey generated 9.6 million tons of municipal solid waste, with 3.85 million tons recycled, for a 40-percent municipal solid waste recycling rate, compared to 44 percent in 2016.
Overall, New Jersey in 2017 generated 23.4 million tons of solid waste, which includes municipal waste plus construction debris and other types of non-municipal waste. Of this, 14.1 million tons were recycled, for an overall recycling rate of 60 percent, compared to 61 percent in 2016.

The DEP attributes the 4-percent decline in the 2017 municipal solid waste recycling rate to manufacturers of consumer products, such as drink bottles, continuing to shift to lighter materials such as plastic over glass. Manufacturers are also using thinner and lighter weight plastics. In addition, the volume of newspaper recycled continues to shrink as consumers increasingly rely on smartphones, tablets, and other electronic devices for information.

The 2017 recycling rate does not fully reflect challenges recycling programs in New Jersey and across the nation have been facing since mid-2017 as China and other nations started rejecting recycling shipments that contain non-recyclable materials, an issue known as recycling contamination. Beginning in early 2018, China began banning the importation of most recyclable materials and other nations have followed.

Some examples of recycling contaminants are plastic bags, syringes, auto parts, non-recyclable types of plastic, Styrofoam cups, improperly rinsed and cleaned food containers, food packaging that can’t be cleaned such as soiled pizza boxes, and trash.

To help municipal and county governments address these contamination challenges, the DEP has launched programs to help local governments educate the public on which materials can be recycled and those that cannot. These efforts include Recycle Right NJ, which provides social media and education materials to recycling programs, and the free RecycleCoach app, which provides convenient access to municipal recycling program information, spelling out what can be recycled on the local level.

The DEP is also making available up to $1 million in grants for New Jersey’s higher-education institutions to conduct research and demonstration projects to strengthen recycling in the state. Specifically, the new grants will provide funds for projects in each of four categories to:

  • Research recycling markets and identify the role government can plan in encouraging recycling while identifying impediments to recycling markets and programs;
  • Study the composition of the state’s waste stream – including the amount of the waste stream that is comprised of food waste – to better inform recycling and source-reduction efforts in the state;
  • Research, design and implement a solid waste and/or food waste recycling-exchange-reduction-reuse project or demonstration at an institution, and;
  • Create a public outreach campaign to educate and motivate residents to reduce the amount of food they waste.

“New Jersey is proud to be the first state to require recycling,” said DEP Assistant Commissioner for Ste Remediation and Waste Management Mark Pedersen. “We expect that these grants will further ongoing recycling efforts in our communities and educate the public about the importance of proper recycling.”

Municipalities receiving recycling tonnage grants of $100,000 or more are:

Vineland, Cumberland County, $330,051; Jersey City, Hudson County, $267,960; South Brunswick, Middlesex County, $261,467; Paterson, Passaic County, $236,050; Newark, Essex County, $220,124; Woodbridge, Middlesex County, $211,903; Toms River, Ocean County, $190,415; Parsippany-Troy Hills, Morris County, $179,992; Edison, Middlesex County, $172,233; Passaic City, Passaic County, $160,267; and Hamilton, Mercer County, $150,719.

Also, Paramus, Bergen County, $144,982; Secaucus, Hudson County, $144,738; Logan, Gloucester County, $143,023; Lakewood, Ocean County, $140,559; Raritan, Hunterdon County, $137,008; Fair Lawn, Bergen County, $135,480; Clifton, Passaic County, $127,762; Middletown, Monmouth County, $122,861; Florence, Burlington County, $119,553; North Bergen, Hudson County, $116,714; Monroe, Middlesex County, $114,965; Cherry Hill, Camden County, $114,682; Brick, Ocean County, $112,023; and East Orange, Essex County, $106,334.

For a complete list of recycling tonnage grants, visit For the first time, municipal recycling rate breakdowns are available to municipalities as a tool to help them better target recycling efforts.

To learn more about recycling in New Jersey, visit

Follow the DEP on Twitter @NewJerseyDEP.