There's no question about it: when it comes to recycling, Cherry Hill is tops in South Jersey.
The proof is in the latest round of state recycling grants released this week by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), where the township was at the top of the list in the southern half of the state.
The township received a $140,641 grant from the DEP for its recycling efforts based on 2010 statistics, which was the eighth-highest grant in the entire state and tops among all towns south of Mercer County. Last year, Cherry Hill also cracked the top recyclers in the state, coming in tenth among all municipalities.
“This is wonderful news, and, in my mind, is proof that doing the right thing really does pay off,” Mayor Chuck Cahn said in a release Tuesday. “We save money for every ton of material that we keep out of our landfills and incinerators, and now we’re actually bringing in revenue in the form of this grant. It’s a win for the township, our residents, and, of course, the environment.”
The township ended up recycling 117,448 tons of materials through all of 2010, which includes everything from curbside recycling to commercial recycling to auto parts and waste. That ranged from nearly 2,600 tons of junk mail and magazines to 14.71 tons of car batteries to 28,680 tons of concrete, asphalt, block and brick, among dozens of other categories.
All that translates into money via the grant program, part of the state Recycling Enhancement Act which requires towns to pay a $3 per ton surcharge on waste sent to disposal sites.
“We are striving to achieve 50 percent recycling of municipal solid waste for environmental and economic reasons,’’ said DEP Assistant Commissioner for Environmental Management Jane Kozinski in a statement. “Many municipalities are leaving money on the table by not maximizing recycling efforts because they can save dollars for every ton of material that is not tossed into the trash.”
Cherry Hill isn't one of those leaving money on the table, though—in fact, it was one of just 10 towns in the entire state that got more back in grant money than it paid in surcharges, according to the DEP's statistics.
Part of that comes from a spike in curbside recycling rates—in 2007, local curbside recycling was 7,411 tons, but by 2011, that had risen to 10,405 tons. Overall, Cherry Hill's recycling rate is 66 percent, more than one-and-a-half times the state average and nearly twice the county average.
“These numbers reflect a true community-wide effort, and everyone who lives and works in this township should be proud,” Mayor Cahn said. “With that said, today’s announcement presents an opportunity to recommit ourselves to the cause; to challenge ourselves to increase our totals even more as we move forward.”