Recycling 101

Is Recycling a Waste of Time? | UNH Tales

“Reuse, Reduce, Recycle.” An easy and effective way to express your commitment to helping protect the environment and your community is to recycle. Recycling is the process of collecting and processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash and turning them into new products. 

Some Positive Benefits of Recycling

  • Reduces the amount of waste and materials sent to landfills, incinerators, and other disposal facilities.
  • Reduces the need to extract, refine, and process new and raw materials, which prevents substantial water and air pollution.
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide and methane, which helps to tackle climate change.
  • Conserves valuable resources and natural resources such as timber, water, and minerals.
  • Saves energy.
  • Taps a domestic source of materials, which increases economic security.
  • Create jobs in the recycling and manufacturing industries in the United States.

How to Properly Recycle According to the EPA

  1. Collection and Processing
    • Curbside collection, drop-off centers, deposit, or refund programs are several ways of collecting recyclables. Recyclables are then sent to a recovery facility, which is sorted and cleaned to be processed into materials that can be used in manufacturing.
  2. Manufacturing
    • Recyclable materials are being in new ways and today’s products are evolving and more of them are being manufactured with recycled content.
  3. Purchasing New Products Made from Recycled Materials
    • Buying new products made from recycled materials closes the recycling loop. Some of the thousands of products that contain recycled content are very common but try to look for products that can easily be recycled and/or contain recycled content when you go shopping. 

What to Recycle

  • Plastics #1 & #2*
  • Glass (bottles and jars)
  • Aluminum, tin, and steel cans
  • Cardboard
  • Glass
  • Paper (newspapers)

*Plastic #1 & #2: refers to a plastic container’s resin identification code. These plastics are mainly accepted into every drop-off and curbside recycling program. Some examples include soda, water bottles, shampoo and soap bottles, etc.

What Not to Recycle

  • Styrofoam
  • Bubble Wrap
  • Cords
  • Plastic/Grocery bags
  • Batteries
  • Mirrors
  • Pizza boxes
  • Clothing 
  • Toys 
  • Food products

How to Properly Recycle in New Jersey

“New Jersey remains a national leader in recycling more than 30 years after becoming the first state in the nation to mandate recycling on a state-wide basis”, said Mark Pedersen, Assistant Commissioner for Site Remediation and Waste Management.

According to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, in 2016, about 22.6 million tons of municipal waste was recycled, amounting to 13.9 million tons recycled and 8.7 million tons were disposed of, which was documented for a recycling rate of 61% in the same year. 

Recycling is an important plan for the state of New Jersey’s solid waste management, which positively benefits economically and environmentally. Enacted in 1987, the New Jersey Statewide Mandatory Source Separation and Recycling Act requires residential, commercial*, and institutional* sectors to recycle and each of its twenty-one counties to develop recycling plans that mandated the recycling of at least three designated recyclable materials, as well as leaves. 

As a plan employed for the collection, marketing, and disposition of designated recyclable materials, though there are many similarities, throughout the years, further materials have been mandated for recycling and different approaches were taken county by county. The different ways of collecting include: county-wide collection programs, municipally-run collection programs, dual-stream collection systems*, single-stream collection systems*, and “Pay-as-you-Throw” systems*.

*Residential, Commercial (businesses, corporations, etc.)

*Institutional (schools, hospitals, prisons, etc.)

*Dual-stream recycling: recyclable materials collection system in which bottles, cans, and other containers are collected separately in one recycling bucket, while paper grades are collected separately in another recycling bucket

*Single-stream recycling: recyclable materials collection systems bottles, cans, and other containers, as well as paper grades, are all collected together in one recycling bucket.

*“Pay-as-you-Throw” system: residents are charged more or less for trash collection, depending on the amount they throw away, which encourages them to reduce the amount of waste they produce and separate recyclables carefully and properly. 


“Recycling Basics.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 13 Nov. 2019,

“♻️ How To Recycle Items In New Jersey: Hometown Waste & Recycling♻️.” Hometown Waste & Recycling Services Inc., 29 May 2019, 

NJDEP – News Release 19/P001 – DEP Awards $14 Million in Grants to Local Governments to Promote, Enhance Recycling Efforts, 2 Jan. 2019,

Rinaldi, Steven. “Frequently Asked Questions.” NJDEP-Recycling Information, 9 Apr. 2020,

User, Super. “Recycling 101.” Home,

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