- New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has announced the award of $14.3 million in annual recycling grants. The amounts were based on the 2014 recycling efforts of each municipality and funded through a $3 per ton charge on solid waste through the state's Recycling Enhancement Act.
- The program is meant to reward local governments for their progress and support further initiatives such as tire collection, purchasing new recycling containers and maintaining leaf composting operations.
- The top three municipalities were Newark ($552,249), Vineland ($306,675) and Jersey City ($298,152).
According to New Jersey's DEP, the state generated 9.6 million tons of municipal solid waste in 2014 and had a 41% diversion rate. When including construction debris and other waste this overall number increases to 20.8 million tons at a 62% diversion rate. These numbers are similar to the 2013 figures announced last year though still below the state's 50% diversion rate target.
These types of recycling grant programs are common in many states, often with built-in funding from waste surcharges or other fees, and are a helpful way to expand programs in municipalities with tight budgets. New Jersey's approach of rewarding recycling progress differs from other states that try to boost lower performing programs or provide options for more challenging materials. Some type of fund-matching formula is also common in other states.
New Jersey has had a mixed record on other waste issues recently. While ideas such as a commercial organic waste recycling mandate have been proposed, they face a political climate that seems resistant to mandates or additional regulation. Governor Chris Christie has vetoed prior bills on extended producer responsibility and electronics recycling in the past. The electronics issue came up again during 2016 as many programs in the state face serious financial issues due to the way funding is structured.