DEP rewards Cherry Hill for recycling efforts

Gabrielle Kains ('12)/ Eastside News/Features Editor, Gabrielle Kains ('12)/ Eastside News/Features Editor, and Gabrielle Kains ('12)/ Eastside News/Features Editor

In the past few years, the Cherry Hill community has been increasing its efforts to help the environment.  Recently, local officials have been informed that the Township of Cherry Hill will be rewarded for its recycling efforts in 2008 with a recycling tonnage grant of $105,603.41 from the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).  This is the highest amount Camden County has received and the thirteenth largest amount given in New Jersey.

These grant funds come from the state’s Recycling Enhancement Act that was created to help New Jersey achieve its recycling-rate goals.  As a result of this program, the award money available for local governments has drastically grown due to a $3-per-ton fee on garbage brought to solid-waste disposal facilities.

Utilizing RecycleBank’s recycling program, Cherry Hill residents have been motivated to recycle under Mayor Bernie Platt’s administration.  With this program, residents receive a large blue trashcan in which they can place any recyclable items and earn points for the weight of their recycled materials.  These points can be redeemed for coupons to over 2,400 local retailers.

“We’ve seen the impact that monetary and incentive-based motivation can have on recycling rates,” Platt said, “and that success has resulted in the Township being rewarded as a whole for our collective efforts with funding that can be used for a whole host of environmental initiatives.”

In New Jersey, recycling is mandatory, and the DEP’s target is for each of its territories to achieve a fifty percent recycling rate.  In mid-2010, the average recycling rate in New Jersey has been around 35 percent, but Cherry Hill proudly holds a rate of nearly sixty percent, a fact that has brought the Township a copious amount of awards, accolades and money in state and county incentives throughout past years.

Also, with the increase in curbside recycling, there has been a direct impact on the cost of the county’s garbage moving and processing.

Platt added, “A spike in our recycling rate means a drop in our garbage output – and that means less money allocated in the Township budget to waste-incinerator tipping fees and less pollution in our air.”

So, Cherry Hill, keep on recycling – it really is making a difference: “Our community is now recycling more than we’re paying to incinerate,” Platt said.  That certainly is a big step in the right direction.