The state Department of Environmental Protection is encouraging local governments and other organizations to use social media to remind the public not only about the importance of recycling but about recycling the right materials.

A 1987 law made New Jersey the first state to mandate recycling and it remains a national recycling leader.

But DEP spokeswoman Caryn Shinske said a problem is that many people are contaminating recycling collections with materials that should not be in the bins.

Contaminants include plastic bags, plastic syringes, auto parts, garden hoses, styrofoam cups and plastic take-out containers, trash and even bowling balls, said Shinske.

These contaminants have adverse effects on the recycling stream. She said they can jam up the processing equipment at recycling centers, which then jacks up the costs associated with recycling. They can also pose health and safety threats to recycling center workers.

Through a social media campaign known as Recycle Right NJ, Shinske said the DEP is providing counties, municipalities and other organizations with 20 social media posts about the importance of putting only acceptable materials in recycling bins. These posts can be used on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as well as on local recycling websites.

Recycling is important to keep the environment clean and healthy. It conserves resources, reduces the amount of waste that goes to disposal facilities and it also helps curb emissions of greenhouse gases which contribute to climate change which the DEP is working hard to combat in New Jersey.

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