By Colleen O'Dea, NJ Spotlight
New Jerseyans are recycling less of their waste than they did in the mid-1990s, data from the state Department of Environmental Protection show.
And while rates had started climbing again since sinking to just above half in 2003, the rate dropped again in 2009 to 57 percent statewide, from 59 percent in 2008.
The typical resident generated 2.3 tons of waste in 2009, the most recent year for which data is available, for a total of 19.4 million tons.
At the peak, New Jerseyans were recycling 61 percent of what they discarded, in 1996 and 1997.
Prior to the enactment of the state’s mandatory recycling law a quarter of a century ago, 10 percent or less of waste was recycled. The law initially set a goal of recycling 25 percent of the municipal solid waste stream, but its success exceeded that and in 1992, the state sought to have half of local waste recycled and 60 percent of all refuse systemwide by the end of 1995. It met that goal, but then rates began falling in 1998.
In 2009, recycling compliance varied significantly by county. Two of the state’s wealthiest counties -- Somerset and Hunterdon -- were the only ones recycling less than half of waste. Cumberland recycled the most, almost 70 percent of all refuse.
The map shows the recycling rate for each county. Click on a county to get more information, including the total amount of waste generated and the tons generated per person, as well as the total tons disposed and recycled, and the 2008 recycling rate. More than half of the counties recycled less waste in 2009 than they had in 2008.
View the interactive map of waste and recycling in New Jersey by clicking here.
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