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Township to Remove Shopping Center Recycling Shed

Matthew Hersh

Municipal officials have decided to close the recycling shed at the Princeton Shopping Center on March 1, citing dramatic decreases in usage and increases in the efficacy of the Township Curbside Recycling Program.

Usage of the shed has dropped over the past several years. It once processed approximately 50 percent of items recycled by Township residents and now handles only about five percent, according to an analysis conducted by the Township Engineering Department, which includes Public Works and Recycling.

Township Engineer Robert Kiser cited the success and effectiveness of the Mercer County Improvement Authority's curbside collection program as the reason why residents are not using the shed as frequently.

"What that indicated to us is that people have become accustomed to the curbside program, and the shed is being used less and less," Mr. Kiser said.

He pointed to the drop in over all tonnage in the past few years. In 2002, the over all tonnage of materials collected at the shed including paper, glass, aluminum, steel, and plastic had dropped to 108.27 tons – a figure drastically reduced from the 256.29 tons dropped off at the shed in 2000. Overall, the percentage of Township materials recycled at the shed has dropped to 5.2 percent in 2002, down from 9.3 percent in 2000.

He added that the shed service was no longer cost-efficient for the Township. According to the report, the yearly cost of shed operations totals $65,000 per year – a number that includes both the salary of a recycling attendant and transportation of materials and clean-up operations.

Don Hansen, superintendent of Public Works, said Bob Clynes, the current attendant at the shed, would continue working within the Engineering Department and that his duties would be reassigned to other Public Works operations.

The report made reference to significant problems that have plagued the shed location, including the disregard of recycling center rules, trash and debris left at the shed after regular hours of operation, and the subsequent manpower required in cleaning up and hauling the aforementioned debris.

Cardboard, which makes up nearly half of the material disposed of at the shed, has been problematic for shed operations. Most of the cardboard comes from the shopping center merchants. Princeton Township is now working with shopping center officials to establish how large amounts of recycling can be disposed of. McCaffrey's Market currently contracts privately for collection of materials to be recycled.

Another issue was that while the shed is only in place to serve Township residents and shopping center merchants, recycling was being brought to the facility from outside the area, which resulted in refuse build-up, Mr. Kiser said.

Township Administrator James Pascale said the shed, which had once been an "award-winning" facility, is now simply a "duplication of service," and effectively costs residents. "Every Township taxpayer already pays for the curbside service," he said. "The only benefit of keeping the recycling center open is [for] a certain number of residents who use [the shed] to have a secondary option."

Township Recycling Coordinator Janet Pellichero said that while residents will no longer have a place to bring recycling piecemeal, the success of the curbside program is proof that most residents no longer use the shopping center shed.

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