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The recycling law in New Jersey

Decision-makers should understand that source separation and recycling have been required by law for over thirty years by the Solid Waste Management Act and the Statewide Mandatory Source Separation and Recycling Act, codified in the New Jersey Statutes Annotated at NJSA 13:1E, especially 13:1E-99.  13:1E-99.11 states the goal of source separating, and clarifies that everyone in the State of New Jersey is included:

“The Legislature therefore declares that it is in the public interest to mandate the source separation of marketable waste materials on a Statewide basis so that reusable materials may be returned to the economic mainstream in the form of raw materials or products, rather than be disposed of at the State’s overburdened landfills, and further declares that the recycling of marketable materials by every municipality in this State, and the development of public and private sector recycling activities on an orderly and incremental basis, will further demonstrate the State’s long-term commitment to an effective and coherent solid waste management strategy.”

All schools, (public, private, and independent) are required to separate and recycle the materials that their counties have designated for businesses and/or institutions. Although each county has devised a unique plan, all have designated cardboard, other paper, bottles, and cans as mandatory recyclables. Click here for the table of designated mandatory recyclables in all 21 NJ counties.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has promulgated regulations at NJAC 7:26A-10 and 11 to clarify the requirements for both generators (people who use materials that then must be recycled) and municipalities.  Click here to see the regulations.

Each municipality is required to appoint a recycling coordinator to educate the public, report recycling tonnage, and assure that every generator (e.g., a school district or a school) can obtain recycling services. Each municipality also must appoint staff to enforce the municipal recycling ordinances. While many municipalities don’t rigorously enforce against their own schools, this does not exempt schools from having to recycle. Schools may be inspected by county agents as well, and issued warnings and penalties if they fail to source separate designated recyclables.

The recycling law in New Jersey2020-07-31T15:12:24-04:00

Student/Environmental Club Member

Key Role: Become involved in the recycling program as much as possible by source separating materials, monitoring materials for contaminants, promoting the program, and spreading the word about your school’s environmental effort.


  • Become part of the Recycling Team by forming or joining a school environmental club or working with administrators to implement the program at your school.
  • Set up a student monitoring schedule to be sure classroom and cafeteria recycling containers are not being contaminated with trash.
  • Volunteer to talk about the recycling program on the school morning announcements. Here’s an example: Video on Trash Talk Announcements at DeMasi School.
  • Keep other students enthusiastic about recycling through a school poster contest, classroom challenges, or articles in the school publications. See some ideas in this video about DeMasi Middle School students assisting the elementary school students.


  • Join the school environmental club.  If the school doesn’t have a club, form one.
  • Assist in the collection of materials from classrooms, where appropriate.
  • Set up a student monitoring schedule for all recyclables collected in classrooms and cafeterias.
  • Promote the new recycling program:
  • Design a school recycling mascot (this could be related to a school mascot already in existence).
  • Create a recycling information and display board.
  • Challenge other classrooms to collection and quality control contests.
  • Hold a school poster contest.
  • Write articles about the importance of recycling for the school publications.
  • Tell your parents or guardians and siblings about the recycling program.
Student/Environmental Club Member2020-07-31T09:50:51-04:00


Key Role: Educate students about the environment. In addition, exude enthusiasm for the program (be a recycling cheerleader). It’s critical to give students positive feedback about their recycling efforts.


  • If the school does not have an environmental club, form one. Give the club members a special title (such as the “Green Team”), and invite students to actively plan and support the recycling program.
  • Organize the environmental club into a team of student monitors. The club can check paper collected in the classrooms and monitor recycling in the cafeterias. If necessary, the club can organize a rotating schedule of classrooms to assist with program monitoring.
  • Use available recycling projects and curricula to educate students about the environment. Be sure to emphasize that a daily recycling effort by students can add up to a significant savings in landfill space in just one school year.
  • In elementary schools, involve students in promoting the recycling program by making posters for the classroom, hallways or cafeteria. Challenge other classes to a paper collection contest.
  • Keep parents informed about the school’s program via school newsletters, cafeteria menu, letters sent home with students, or posting on the school district’s website.
  • If teachers have cafeteria duty, they could monitor students and recycling containers to prevent potential contamination.
  • Use recycling as a fun, educational opportunity (e.g., as a math activity, record weight of the collected materials) and incorporate into math, science and other curricula.  See the Resources section below.
  • Refer to the NJ Clean Communities Best Practices Manual for lists of books, assembly programs and curricula.


  • Form a student environmental club or support the efforts of an existing club by encouraging students to join.
  • Involve your students in monitoring the recycling program.
  • Have your students make posters, visit younger students to discuss recycling, or promote the new program in other ways.
  • Watch this this video about DeMasi Middle School students assisting the elementary school students. DeMasi Middle School is located in Marlton, NJ.  This video is part of a video playlist created for schools by ANJR.
  • Educate students about the environment, especially during week of program start-up.
  • Monitor students’ participation and quality of recyclables in the classroom and cafeteria.

Food Service Representative

Key Role: Facilitate the collection of recyclables from the kitchen and lunchroom.


  • Provide information about recyclables found in the kitchen and cafeteria for the school’s walkthrough assessment.
  • Help determine the number and the placement of recycling containers necessary for the kitchen and cafeteria; e.g., if trash containers are available at each end of the cafeteria, recycling containers should be placed next to the trash containers.
  • Educate food service managers and personnel about the program’s requirements; enlist their cooperation.
  • If food service personnel act as cafeteria monitors, make sure they understand contamination issues and monitor students’ placement of recyclables in containers.


  • Provide a list of recyclables and volume estimates for the school’s walkthrough assessment.
  • Assist with the placement of recycling containers in the cafeteria, and ensure that proper signage is on both the recycling and trash containers.
  • Instruct staff on how to participate in the program in the kitchen and how to monitor students in the cafeteria (if applicable).
Food Service Representative2020-07-31T09:48:57-04:00

Buildings and Grounds Representative

(This representative may be the Buildings and Grounds Superintendent, the Facility Director, the Head Custodian or someone else from this department.  Some schools have their own employees that fill these rolls or contract with a company for these services.)

Key Role: Assist with implementing and maintaining the new recycling program, and serve as school contact for discussions with the trash hauler.


  • Watch this video: Getting Started in Frankford: School and Municipality Work Together.
  • Cooperate with the Central Coordinator, principal and other school personnel to conduct a school walkthrough assessment.
  • Help determine size and quantity of recycling containers needed in classrooms, cafeterias and other locations (e.g. offices, gymnasiums, and outdoor athletic fields) and types of containers needed for transport from inside locations to outside dumpsters.  Be sure that all containers are properly labeled.
  • Work out a schedule for the school’s internal flow of recyclables based on the trash hauler’s collection schedule.
  • Familiarize yourself with the hauler’s expectations and standards for recyclables.
  • Put recyclables into the proper storage containers.
  • Provide the final quality control, check for the school’s recyclable material.  If recyclables are particularly contaminated, notify the Central Coordinator.
  • Monitor the program logistics such as the size of outdoor storage units and the frequency of pickups by the trash hauler.


  • Assist with the school’s walkthrough assessment.
  • Work with other key personnel to determine the size and quantity of recycling containers needed throughout the school.
  • Obtain a recycling pickup schedule from the district’s hauler.
  • With the Central Coordinator, create and distribute a school collection schedule for all recyclables.
  • Provide ongoing quality control for all recyclables by monitoring collection containers.
  • Ensure that recyclables are prepared properly (e.g., there should be no recyclables inside plastic bags).
  • Report any problems with the size of storage containers or frequency of pickups by the hauler to the business administrator or Central Coordinator.
Buildings and Grounds Representative2020-07-31T09:47:45-04:00

Board of Education Representative and/or Parent from the Parent/Teacher Association and/or Other Community Representative

Key Role: Stay up-to-date on the school district’s recycling plans, and provide any assistance possible.


  • Update school board members and/or Parent/Teacher Association members of program status.
  • Assist school in obtaining corporate sponsors for the recycling program.
  • Offer to write or call local business contacts to spread the word about the school district’s recycling efforts.
  • Speak at kickoff events.
Board of Education Representative and/or Parent from the Parent/Teacher Association and/or Other Community Representative2020-07-31T09:46:55-04:00

Business Administrator or Procurement Official

Key Role: Act as Central Coordinator, or work with that person when contracting for recycling and/or trash collection services. Help establish budget for collection containers and promotional efforts.


  • Review data compiled from walkthrough assessment.
  • Review existing trash/recycling collection/hauling contracts.
  • Include request for recycling service in next hauling bid (remember to be specific), or re-negotiate contract with current hauler to include recyclables.
  • If outdoor storage containers will be provided by the hauler, work with school buildings and grounds managers and personnel to be sure each school receives the proper size. Also, make sure all containers arrive in time for the program kickoff.
  • Review staff job descriptions to assure that recycling requirements are incorporated.
  • Be available for feedback from schools once recycling program begins.
  • Make adjustments in storage containers or frequency of pickups if necessary.
  • Establish central data collection system to record amounts collected.
  • Annually report amounts of materials recycled to local recycling officials, or be sure that the recycling hauler does so and also sends the school district copies of tonnage reports.


  • With the assistance of the Central Coordinator, compile walkthrough assessment information and determine overall school district recycling needs.
  • Review existing trash/recycling hauling contract.
  • Include a list of desired recyclables and volume estimates in the next hauling bid, or discuss needs with the current hauler.
  • Monitor the delivery of any outdoor storage equipment provided by the hauler.
  • In consultation with the buildings and grounds manager, purchase any recycling containers needed.
  • Check with schools once the program begins to be sure the new recycling service meets the needs of each school.
Business Administrator or Procurement Official2020-07-31T09:46:29-04:00

Principal or Designee

Key Role: Generate enthusiasm and support for the new recycling program within the

school. Act as the Central Coordinator, or work closely with that person to communicate the school’s recycling needs and to disseminate information.


  • With the Central Coordinator, select a start-up date for the new recycling program.
  • Participate in a waste audit to assess the school’s recycling needs.
  • Keep the school’s program visible: arrange for a school wide assembly on the kickoff day; set recycling goals for students and offer incentives (such as free ice cream) if the goals are met; make recycling a recurrent school theme (through assembly programs, reminders about the program on morning announcements, and local field trips to recycling centers or landfills).
Principal or Designee2020-07-30T18:48:17-04:00
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