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Posted Monday, July 8th, 2019

Keep Summer Trash and Non-Recyclables Out of the Recycling Stream

The state DEP and Morris County MUA ask residents to be vigilant about keeping trash and unwanted items –those that are not recyclable — out of recycling containers. While you may have the best of intentions, if you are not sure if an item is recyclable, err on the side of caution: When in doubt, throw it out.

Items in your recycling container are valuable raw materials that are used to make new products. However, mixing in non-recyclable items can taint your whole load.

Recycle Coach app graphic

Download the Recycle Coach app and customize it for your town.

Recycling contamination is anything that finds its way into a recycling bin or cart that does not belong there. Some prime examples of contaminants are plastic bags, plastic syringes, auto parts, garden hoses, food-stained pizza boxes, and Styrofoam cups, among many others. Check out the MUA’s recycling flyer.

“Properly recycling materials is critical to keeping our environment clean, protecting public health and reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change,” said state Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine McCabe.

You can download the Recycle Coach App to figure out the right way to dispose of a long list of items, customized to your town. You can also opt in for reminders of pick up dates.

Adding contaminants to your curbside recycling can have several adverse effects on the recycling stream. These items can jam up processing equipment at recycling centers, which in turn increases costs associated with recycling, and can pose health and safety threats to recycling center workers.

Further, recycling contamination creates serious quality control issues at local recycling centers. The co-mingling of recyclables with contaminants has led to major recycling market disruptions that have negatively affected the economics of recycling and has created one of the biggest challenges facing recycling today.

Recycling Most Unwanted - hoses, diapers, clothing and plastic bags

As a result of these challenges, the DEP and MUA urge all residents to participate in their local recycling program and help keep unacceptable materials out of curbside and workplace recycling bins.

The Recycle Right NJ social media campaign is one of several educational initiatives implemented by the DEP to address recycling contamination and advance recycling statewide.

Through passage of a 1987 law, New Jersey was the first state to require recycling. New Jersey remains a national recycling leader, with one of the nation’s highest recycling rates.

Download Morris County MUA Single Stream Recycling flyer here.

To learn more about recycling in New Jersey, visit

Recycling bin filled with "contaminants,'' such as plastic bags and Styrofoam egg cartons, package wrap and a child's juice container

Recycling bin filled with “contaminants,” such as plastic bags and Styrofoam egg cartons, package wrap and a child’s juice container