Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 19
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Coldwell Banker Princeton Office

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It’s New to Us by Jean Stratton

RECYCLING OPPORTUNITY: “Princeton Township has been very aware of the need for recycling. We started collecting computers, cell phones, and other things not traditionally recyclable before other communities did. And now, we will be the first residential community in New Jersey to have the curbside organic waste recycling program.” Janet Pellichero, Princeton Township Recycling Coordinator, is very enthusiastic about this new program.

Township’s Organic Waste Recycling Program Is Scheduled to Be Launched in Early June

Princeton is known and admired for its many assets: its unique place in American history, in education, its desirable location, the charm and convenience of its shopping scene. It was and is home to famous people. Now, it will add still another “first” to its list of accomplishments — this in the important area of environmental protection.

Princeton Township will be the first residential community in the state to offer a curbside organic waste recycling program. This is a big deal, explains Janet Pellichero, Princeton Township Recycling Coordinator and member of the Public Works Department.

“We were asked by the Premier Food Waste Company to participate in this program last year. They are the sister company to Central Jersey Waste, which collects our recycling products, and have been involved in organic waste recycling for seven years. I took the proposal to Township Committee last June, and they unanimously approved it.”

It has taken a year to get started, she notes. There are many components to be considered, but now the launch date has been set for June 2. At that time, residents may set out all sorts of items for recycling that have not been included before: meat, seafood, bones, oils, fats and butter, used pizza boxes, all kinds of paper (many people will be pleased that envelopes can be included intact: no need to tear off the cellophane windows). All these were formerly discarded in the garbage, only to add to the increasing amount of debris crowding into the landfills.

Some Reasons

Why is this important? Here are just some reasons, notes Ms. Pellichero:

• Nearly 45 percent of what we throw away in our garbage is organic, and the average family home throws away 45 pounds of food scraps and food soiled paper every month.

• Mercer County has the highest solid waste disposal fees in New Jersey. Each ton of disposed solid waste is charged a $124.95 “tipping fee”: a fee to dump it onto the transfer station floor before it is transported to a landfill, where it is charged an additional fee. The fee is charged to the garbage hauler, but is funded by the fees we pay to have our trash collected.

• By removing the organic material from our trash and recycling it, the tipping fee is no longer charged.

Recyclables are not trash, and are processed much cheaper than trash. Instead of being sent to a landfill, they are transported to the Peninsula Compost Group in Delaware, where they are processed and become a valuable soil amendment.

• Carbon emissions from the trash trucks are reduced when materials going to a landfill are drastically lowered; marketable products, such as compost, are produced. Money is saved by reducing trash disposal costs.

• You can also save money by reducing the number of garbage collections you receive: the more organic material you recycle, the less trash you will have, feasibly reducing your collections to twice a month or even once. Your trash will not rot or smell without organic material in it, and with continued recycling of our existing yellow recycling container materials, very little trash will need to be collected.

500 People

“During this 3-month pilot program, residents who sign up will be given one 64-gallon black container for trash (including styrofoam, plastics, metal, glass, lumber, sod, etc.), one 32-gallon green container for organic waste, one under-counter kitchen container, and a 3-month supply of bio-degradable bags,” says Ms. Pellichero.

“We need to have 500 people sign up to keep the program going. We already have more than 200, but it would be great to get 1000. People can sign up any time during the program.”

Each container will be picked up once a week. Current plans are for Monday and Thursday. The organic waste will be transported to Delaware, and in 80 days, it becomes marketable compost, points out Ms. Pellichero.

Peninsula Compost Group’s subsidiary, the Wilmington Organic Recycling Center uses state-of-the-art technology “to convert 160,000 tons of source separated food discards and yard wastes into l00,000 tons of high value, nutrient-rich organic compost per year for use in agriculture, horticulture, landscaping, and home use.”

Organic Program

Also, adds Ms. Pellichero, “this program will not interfere with the existing Mercer County curbside recycling program. They will still collect plastic, glass, metal items, etc. The organic program will enhance our current recycling program.

“Another thing, we don’t want people to stop their own backyard composting. Keep it up. Just give us the stuff you don’t put there — fish, meat, bones, etc.

“The Hun School has set up an organic program with Premier Food Waste, and they will definitely save money with their garbage collection,” she continues. “They will no longer add to the landfills, or contribute to the methane gas produced by what is in the landfills. There is nothing negative about this program.

“Also, another important environmental benefit is that the Premier Waste Company trucks are fueled by CNG (compressed natural gas). This is not only energy-efficient, but the trucks are quieter. The whole program is focused on being environmentally-sensitive in all ways.”

Initial Response

Similar programs have been mandated in Seattle, San Francisco, and Canada, she notes.

Ms. Pellichero is very encouraged by the initial response and also grateful for the $30,000 contribution from the Mercer County Improvement Authority toward purchasing the containers and to the Glad Bag Company for its donation of the bio-degradable kitchen container bags.

In addition, she notes, “We are doing all we can to get everything at the most reasonable price.”

The cost of the program is $25 per month. During the initial three months, participants would suspend collection from their current garbage collectors.

“Princeton is a very environmentally-sensitive community,” points out Ms. Pellichero. “I really hope this will work, and that people will see its value. Everyone will know that we are trying, that Princeton recognizes the problem, and that this program can be an easy solution. I want to see the program grow here and grow statewide. We hope other communities will mirror it.

“This is a great municipality,” she continues. “I love my job; I love the Township; and I love the residents. I know I can count on them to be environmentally-aware. It is exciting to be part of this new project.”

Those interested in joining the program can contact Ms. Pellichero by phone at (609) 688-2566 or by email:

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