“While recycling is important because it helps protect the environment and saves money for our towns by not having to dispose solid waste at the landfill, understanding proper recycling habits is a key component in making sure the recycling process goes smoothly,” said Ocean County Board of Commissioners Director Gary Quinn, who serves as liaison to the Ocean County recycling program. “We want to make our residents aware that there are many options for proper disposal of items that could pose dangers and that do not belong in curbside recycling containers.”
In recent years, fires have become more common at recycling centers, with many being caused by improper recycling. A recent example, Atlantic Coast Fibers, operator for Ocean County’s Northern Recycling Center in Lakewood, recently lost their recycling center in North Jersey to an 11-alarm fire on Jan. 30. The exact cause of the fire is under investigation.
“Sometimes, in an effort to recycle as much as possible, residents inadvertently place dangerous items into their curbside recycling containers thinking that they are properly disposing of the items, when actually these items can lead to fires inside collection trucks and recycling centers,” Quinn said. “These types of fires can be prevented by residents understanding how to properly dispose of items such as lithium-ion batteries, aerosol cans, combustible/flammable liquids, household chemicals, and propane tanks.”
Lithium-ion batteries, for instance, that are found in cell phones, “vape” pens and musical greeting cards, as well as rechargeable batteries and button batteries, should never be placed in curbside recycling containers. Instead, in Ocean County, the batteries should be taken to the Special Waste Drop-off facilities at Ocean County’s Northern Recycling Center in Lakewood or the Southern Recycling Center in Manahawkin (open Monday-Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Residents can also check with their municipality’s public works department to find other drop-off locations.
In addition, other ignitable items including aerosol cans, combustible/flammable liquids like gasoline and kerosene, propane tanks, and household chemicals like bleach, ammonia or pool chemicals can be disposed of during Household Hazardous Waste events that are hosted throughout the year by the Ocean County Board of Commissioners and its Department of Solid Waste Management.
“Many of our facilities and programs such as the Household Hazardous Waste program are free to Ocean County residents,” Quinn said. “We encourage our residents to use the resources that are available to help make sure they are recycling right.”
For more information on available programs and what can be recycled, visit the Ocean County Department of Solid Waste Management’s website http://www.co.ocean.nj.us/OC/SolidWaste/frmHomeSW.aspx or call 732-506-5047.