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Posted Wednesday, July 24th, 2019

When in Doubt, Throw it Out — That’s the Best Decision for the Environment

Plastic bags, Styrofoam egg cartons, package wrap, squeezable yogurt packages and a fast food drink cup contaminate the recycling stream.

Plastic bags, Styrofoam, package wrap, wire, squeezable yogurt packages and fast food drink cups are some of the items that contaminate the recycling stream.

Not everything with a recycling symbol goes into your curbside recycling bin for single stream collection.

Starting later this year, Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority, which collects recycling in 14 of Morris County’s 39 towns, will implement a “tag-it and leave-it” inspection program. When the inspection program begins, if your recycling contains contaminants, the entire bin could be left at the curb.

The goal is to ensure that bulk recycling loads sent by the MUA to the recycling market don’t get rejected (and sent to a landfill) because they contain too many items that don’t meet recycling standards.

To understand better, take a look at this 90-second video about contaminants in recycling. A second video, featured on the Morris County MUA’s website, explains Why You’re Recycling Wrong. While there are some minor differences in the recycling rules of the county MUA versus towns that don’t use the MUA for recycling pickup, the messages in these videos are pretty universal.

The most problematic recycling contaminants found by the Morris County MUA include:

  • Plastic bags (Take them to a retail store with a dedicated bin for bags. They jam machinery.)
  • Plastic film/plastic packaging
  • Foam/Styrofoam (Large amounts of clean block Styrofoam that hasn’t contacted food can be recycled at Foam Pack Industries in Springfield.)
  • Hangers (Plastic, metal or wood — they jam up the machinery.)
  • Food waste
  • Wood scraps
  • Plastic bottles/containers coded #3, #4, #6 & #7 (Recycle only plastic bottles/containers coded #1, #2 & #5. No medicine bottles at all).

Just for clarification, these items don’t belong in your recycling container either: Paper coffee cups, dirty pizza boxes, paper towels, and some less likely items such as diapers, bowling balls, hypodermic needles, animal carcasses, batteries and electronics. Batteries can cause a fire at a recycling center. People sort recycling – not machines, so keep them safe.

Also, recyclables must be empty, clean and dry — without food residue.

Download the MUA’s recycling flyer here and post it in your kitchen.

The MUA’s revised plastics acceptability guidelines now limits plastic recycling collection to only bottles/containers coded #1, #2 & #5.

Morris Recycling: Tag-It and Leave It Inspection Program

The goal is to avoid rejected loads at the local recycling facility which first separates the single-stream recyclables into the individual materials that make up the recycling stream. Cleaner loads result in less cost while rejected loads due to contamination result in a greater cost for all involved. The rule change is due to strict requirements for purity by companies who buy the bundled materials.

For curbside collection, recyclables must be loose in a reusable container with handles and a lid.  For additional information, please visit

Towns served by Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority are: Boonton, Boonton Township, Chatham and Chatham Township, Denville, East Hanover, Florham Park, Hanover Township, Mine Hill, Morris Plains, Netcong, Pequannock, Rockaway Borough and Wharton. Not served by MUA? Check this list for your town’s specifics.