You probably need help recycling — NJ has a free app for that
Do you really know what should be recycled and what shouldn't? Would you love a notification on your phone when the blue bin needs to go to the curb?
There is an app for that, as long as your municipality is one of the hundreds in New Jersey that have taken advantage — for free — of the Recycle Coach application purchased by the state of New Jersey.
Through it, residents get access to local collection schedules, and the option to be reminded about disposal dates. One can also communicate with their town about waste issues, and access a database explaining what is and isn't recyclable.
"There are currently 253 municipalities participating," said Scott Brubaker, deputy director of the Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste Management at the state Department of Environmental Protection. "Fifty-nine percent of the New Jersey population lives in a town that has loaded the app onto their website."
Upon launching Recycle Coach in January 2018, New Jersey became the first state to purchase a program that centralizes recycling information in one app. The DEP offers the service free of charge to governments under a three-year renewable contract.
"When we came to understand how complicated and confusing recycling had become to the average person in New Jersey, we set out to find a way to make that recycling more simple and more clear," Brubaker said.
According to Brubaker, the app had 6 million interactions last year in New Jersey, and 138,000 new subscribers.
On the app's "What goes where?" tool, the most common search was "Furniture Items."
Brubaker said there's plenty of "wish recycling" taking place in the Garden State — people think if a product looks recyclable, it will be recycled in some way. But products such as garden hoses, plastic bags and coat hangers can foul up mechanics at a recycling center, which can result in higher costs, he said.
"Pizza boxes can't be stained with grease. Peanut butter jars have to be cleaned out to some extent," Brubaker said. "If in doubt, throw it out."
New Jersey has a recycling rate of 40%, one of the nation's best rates.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.