The 7,200 mile separation didn’t change the common goal between the staff that implements Ocean County’s recycling efforts and that of the China Resource Recycling Association.
“We want to learn about your recycling programs and how we can do the best recycling job possible in China,” said Tang Yanju, Business Division Manager for the Association, through an interpreter.
Yanju with a group of about 20 association members visited the Ocean County Northern Recycling Center off New Hampshire Avenue, here, on June 21. It was the first leg of their U.S. market research.
“We are very proud of the work that is done here especially because it helps our environment,” said Ocean County Freeholder Gerry P. Little, who serves as liaison to Ocean County’s award winning recycling program. “We deeply appreciate your interest in visiting our center and we are very happy we share this common interest.”
Following a brief welcome and overview at the recycling facility’s education center, the group was given a tour of the county’s materials processing facility, led by Ernest Kuhlwein, who is director of the Ocean County Department of Solid Waste Management and Matt Cole, recycling plant manager from Waste Management.
Kuhlwein along with Little explained how the county’s recycling program operates with an eye toward cost effectiveness and efficiencies that make the program easy for residents to participate.
“Last year, this recycling processing facility processed 80,000 tons of materials from our 33 municipalities,” Little explained. “We accept single-stream recyclables which includes cardboard, newspaper, mixed paper, plastic bottles, aluminum cans and steel cans.
“Recyclables processed at the facility in Lakewood are marketed both domestically here in the United States and internationally,” he said.
China is one of the biggest markets for paper and cardboard from Ocean County.
The association members were given a up close view of how the machinery at the facility works and how the materials are made ready for market.
In 2010, Ocean County moved to single-stream recycling allowing all recyclables to be placed at the curb in one container. The materials processing facility was renovated and retrofitted to mechanically sort the recyclables brought into the facility.
While the County owns the facility it is operated by Waste Management, a private contractor.
“Single stream recycling increased efficiencies especially for the large towns that were already using robo-trucks for trash collection,” Kuhlwein said. “Single stream recycling is picked up like daily trash and that makes the process more efficient.”
Little explained Ocean County returns a portion of the revenue it receives from marketing the recyclable to its municipalities which also offsets the cost of the recycling operations.
“Our recycling operations help save landfill space which also comes with a financial savings benefit for our municipalities,” Little said.
Association Business Manager Yanju said the visit to Ocean County’s recycling center will help in the collection of information and research that the association members will bring back to China.
“This will give China positive help,” she said.
The group also will visit Washington, Los Angeles and other areas to gather a comprehensive view of solid waste removal in the United States.
“We welcome the opportunity to share our knowledge and program information with the members of the Association from China,” Little said. “Recycling and proper solid waste disposal comes with economic and environmental benefits wherever, in this world, you might live.”