Recycling Made Easy

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Whats in the Bin?

Camden County wants to make single stream recycling easy!  The county accepts rinsed plastic or glass bottles, jars and jugs, rinsed aluminum and steel cans, clean paper, and clean cardboard.  If you are unsure if a piece is recyclable, just remember this…  When in doubt, throw it out.

And remember, NO PLASTIC BAGS of any kind.  Please recycle them at your supermarket or big box store.

Remember, When in doubt, throw it out!

Download this easy cheat sheet to get you started.

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Single Stream Recycling

Camden County has a long history of leading recycling efforts in New Jersey. We were the first in the state to mandate recycling in 1985. The state followed suit and mandated recycling state-wide started in 1987.

In the past 10 years Camden County, like many other places, started Single Stream Recycling, where residents combine all recyclable materials into one container for pickup. Over the years there have been several important changes to what items are acceptable and unacceptable in Single Stream Recycling programs. Recycling is always growing, and in many ways markets around the world can have a profound effect on our day to day behaviors.

Please remember, it is always a good idea to read labels and seek the most up to date information regarding your municipalities recycling program. What may have been recyclable yesterday, may not still be recyclable today. Although the primary recyclable materials have stayed the same, some municipalities have differing specifications for what is acceptable.

Below are the most common questions people ask about single stream recycling. Most of the answers to these questions are consistent throughout the recycling industry. Please read the following information carefully, because a lack of attention to detail can be the difference between doing what is right and doing what is wrong.

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Recycling FAQs

Q. What items should be placed in my curbside recycling container?
A. The following items should be placed in your curbside recycling container
Newspaper • mixed paper including junk mail • magazines • catalogs • school papers • office papers etc… • paper packaging • paperboard cartons for foods such as cereal boxes, pasta boxes and tissue boxes, etc… • softcover books • phone books • cardboard • glass bottles and jars • aluminum and steel cans • aluminum and steel lids • Plastic bottles and jars with #1 or #2 found on the bottom • milk and juice cartons • paper towel and toilet paper inserts.  A graphic identifying recyclable items can be found by clicking here.

Q. Why have the rules for recycling changed?
A. The fact is the “rules” for recycling have not changed significantly. The end market specifications for recycled materials have tightened so non-recyclable items in your curbside container have become a bigger problem for facilities that separate and process what you place in that container. The fact is that these non-recyclable items were never supposed to be placed in your recycling container. For this reason, the County and its municipalities have stepped up their education efforts to keep these items out of the recycling stream.

Q. Why can we no longer recycle plastic containers that are #4, #5, and #7?
A. This is the most significant change to what we now recycle. The recycling of these particular plastic containers was largely dependent on markets outside the USA. However, in 2018, China, who received most of these plastics implemented a policy known as the National Sword. This resulted in greater restrictions on importation of recyclables of any kind. Markets for #4, #5, and #7 plastics are now almost non-existent. As a result, these items are in many cases leaving the recycling facility as trash and being landfilled. Additionally, these plastics tend to contribute to more food waste contamination in the “Single Stream “mix, resulting in a poorer quality of cardboard and paper being marketed for recycling. We are therefore asking residents to place these containers in their trash receptacle. It should be noted that this change is being implemented not just here in Camden County, but in counties State-wide.
The good news is, there are still strong domestic markets for plastics #1 (soda bottles, water bottles, etc.) and #2 (milk jugs, laundry detergent bottles, etc.), which make up most plastic containers in the waste stream.

Q. Why am I now being told to rinse out my containers before placing them in my recycling container?
A. Because end markets for recyclables have tightened their standards for the recyclables they purchase, the presence of moisture from food and liquid waste in containers has become a greater issue. For this reason, residents are being asked to empty and rinse containers fully before placing them in the curbside recycling container.

Q. How am I supposed to empty and rinse containers like peanut butter, mustard, cheese, and tomato sauce jars?
A. One trick for emptying/cleaning these containers is to fill the mostly empty container with warm water, replace the lid and let soak overnight. In the morning, empty half the water and secure the lid. Shaking the container with the remaining water inside should loosen any food residue inside the container. Empty and rinse the container one final time. It should now be completely empty and ready for your recycling container.

Q. Can I recycle plastic bags in my curbside recycling container?
A. NO, NO, NO – You cannot recycle any type of plastic bags in your residential curbside container. Plastic bags are a contaminant in Single Stream residential recycling and are considered the most problematic contaminant found in the curbside recycling mix. Plastic bags interfere with the mechanical recycling process by causing, slow-downs, stoppages and potential damage to recycling processing equipment at the recycling processing facility. Plastic bags should never be placed in your recycling container.

Q. So what can I do with plastic bags?
A. Plastic bags by themselves can be recycled. Many supermarkets and big box stores have containers available for customers to recycle plastic bags. Click here for a comprehensive list of stores in the area that accept plastic bags for recycling.

Q. Can plastic wrap or bubble wrap be recycled in my curbside recycling container?
A. NO- Plastic wrap of any kind is not recyclable in the curbside mix, regardless of whether it has recycling labeling on it. All plastic packaging materials should be placed into your trash receptacle.

Q. What do I do with plastic take-out food containers?
A. Plastic food take-out containers are no longer recyclable due to changes in foreign plastic recycling markets. They should be placed in your regular trash. Only plastic bottles and jars which display, #1 or #2 inside chasing arrows on the bottom, of the container are recyclable in your curbside recycling container. (show graphic of chasing arrows)

Q. Can shredded paper go in my curbside recycling container?
A. NO – Unfortunately, shredded paper cannot be recycled at the curb as this material cannot be processed properly since the recycling facility’s equipment is not designed to handle shredded paper. It therefore poses sorting issues when mixed with other commodities. Please place all shredded paper into your regular trash receptacle.

Q. Is there any way to recycle the paper from shredded documents?
A. YES – If you want to recycle your confidential documents, you can bring them to a local or County sponsored shredding event. These events feature shredding trucks that shred the paper on site. The shredded paper generated is then recycled at a facility specifically equipped to handle shredded paper for recycling.

Q. Can I recycle paper packaging in my curbside recycling container?
A. Yes – Paper packaging can be recycled with two exceptions: no foil covered packaging and no plastic/ wax coated paper packaging should be recycled.
* A good rule to follow is if the products paper packaging was purchased off a shelf at the store, it can be recycled in your curbside recycling container. If the products paper packaging came out of the freezer at the store it cannot be recycled and should be placed in your trash receptacle.

Q. Can I recycle pizza boxes in my curbside recycling container?
A. As a rule – NO – pizza boxes should go in the trash. However, if the box is completely clean, with no food or oil residue, it can be recycled in the curbside mix.

Q. What should I do with frozen food boxes and cartons?
A. They should be placed in the regular trash. Frozen food containers, including ice cream containers, are lined with plastic and cannot be recycled at the curb.

Q. Can aerosol cans be recycled in my curbside recycling container?
A. NO – Due to the many varying types of hazardous and non-hazardous liquids that are found in aerosol cans, we recommend placing empty aerosol cans in your trash receptacle. Aerosol cans that contain unwanted hazardous liquids should be taken to a County Household Hazardous Waste drop-off event. Click here for dates and times.

Q. Can I recycle plastic cups, straws and utensils in my curbside recycling container?
A. NO – Any and all plastics other than #1 and #2 bottles and jars are not recyclable in the curbside mix. Please place these plastic materials in your trash receptacle.

Q. Can Styrofoam be recycled in my curbside recycling container?
A. NO – Styrofoam cannot be recycled in the curbside mix. Please place all Styrofoam in your trash receptacle.

Q. Can I recycle books in my curbside recycling container?
A. All soft cover books can be placed in you curbside recycling container. Hard cover books need the covers removed first. The cover should then be placed in your trash receptacle. The remaining pages can then be placed in your curbside recycling container.

Q. Can paper towels, napkins, plates and paper cups be recycled in my curbside recycling container?
A. NO – All paper food and toiletry products should be placed in your trash receptacle.

Q. Can ceramic mugs be placed in my curbside recycling container?
A. NO. These items should be placed in your trash receptacle.

Q. Can I place other glass items such as mirrors or window glass in my curbside recycling container.
A. NO. This glass is a different type of glass than that used to make glass bottles and jars. For this reason, as well as for safety issues, these glass items should be placed in your trash receptacle.

Q. Can I recycle clothing and rags in my curbside recycling container?
A. NO – We recommend donating reusable textiles to an appropriate organization that accept such items. Rags and unusable textiles should be placed in your trash receptacle.

Q. Can I recycle molded plastic furniture or toys in my curbside recycling container?
A. NO – All rigid plastic furniture and toys should be donated to an appropriate organization or otherwise placed in your regular trash.

Q. How about the 5-gallon plastic buckets that some paints, pool chemicals, foods, etc. come in? Can these be recycled in my curbside recycling container?
A. NO. These ridged plastic containers should be placed in your trash receptacle.

Q. Can any type of metal be placed in my curbside recycling container?
A. Only steel and aluminum food and beverage containers should be placed in your curbside recycling container.

Q. What can I do with scrap metal from my home?
A. Contact your municipal public works department for scrap metal recycling options or log on to Recycle Coach and follow the prompts for recycling options

Q. Can prescription medicines and/ or medicine containers be placed in my curbside recycling container?
A. NO- Contact your local police department for disposal of unused prescription medicines. Empty prescription containers should be placed in your trash receptacle.

Q. Can needles be recycled in my curbside recycling container?
A. NO – Residential medical needles must be secured in a rigid container and placed into the regular trash. No medical waste of any type should be placed into your curbside recycling container.

Q. Can staples, paper clips and envelopes with plastic windows go in my curbside recycling container?
A. YES- There is no need to remove paper clips or staples from multiple sheets of paper. Window envelopes are also acceptable.

Q. Can Fed Ex / Tyvek type plastic envelopes be recycled in my curbside recycling container?
A. NO- These envelopes are made with plastic polymers and are not recyclable at the curb. These items should be placed in your trash receptacle.

Q. Can I recycle baby diapers in my curbside recycling container?
A. NO- Baby diapers made of any material should be thrown into the regular trash

Q. Can plastic caps be recycled in my curbside recycling container?
A. NO- Plastic caps should be removed from the container and placed in your trash receptacle.

Q. Can I put an ice cream box in my curbside recycling container?
A. NO – All paperboard containers intended for freezer use should be placed in your regular trash receptacle.

Q. Can I recycle aluminum foil in my curbside recycling container?
A. NO- All aluminum other than cans should be placed in your regular trash receptacle.

Q. Can I recycle glossy magazines in my curbside recycling container?
A. YES- All glossy magazines, literature, envelopes, brochures, greeting cards and soft cover books are recyclable and should be placed in your curbside container

Q. Can I recycle PVC pipe in my curbside recycling container?
A. NO – Only #1 and #2 plastic bottles and jars are recyclable in the curbside recycling container.

Q. Can I recycle plastic bottles that contained automotive or yard chemicals in my curbside recycling container?
A. NO – Most of these containers contained hazardous chemicals and should be emptied prior to placing them in your regular trash receptacle. Note however that there are a few exceptions to this rule such as, windshield washer fluid and grass seed containers etc… These can be placed in your curbside recycling container.