The idea is to help municipalities develop improved recycling practices while boosting local economies and helping the state reach its goal of 50 percent recycling in the process.

The Department of Environmental Protection Solid Waste Program and New Jersey Solid Waste Advisory Council hosted an Urban Recycling Summit.

Representatives from Asbury Park, Atlantic City, Bayonne, Bridgeton, Camden, Clifton, East Orange, Elizabeth, Hackensack, Irvington, Jersey City, Lakewood, Millville, New Brunswick, Newark, Old Bridge, Orange, Perth Amboy, Phillipsburg, Plainfield and Trenton attended.

“The recycling summit is another in the DEP’s continued efforts to actively engage municipal stakeholders to develop new strategies to increase recycling,” said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. “While we’re pleased to say New Jersey’s recycling rate is on an upward trend, it is incumbent upon all of the state’s municipalities to maximize their recycling efforts for the good of the environment and their own economy.”

The DEP supports municipal and county recycling programs through grants every year, but the state’s cities and urban areas often have unique challenges in providing recycling services in their communities.

“Many of these challenges include constraints in space for storing recyclables between pick ups. Very often there are transient populations that aren’t educated yet on the municipal recycling laws. One of the urban areas that attended has 35 different languages that are spoken. So the language barrier there presents a real problem for the recycling coordinator when it comes to educating the community. Language barriers can be a problem in many of our cities,” said DEP Assistant Commissioner for Environmental Management Jane Kozinski. “Sometimes it’s a matter of logistics. Many urban areas have narrow streets with little off-street parking, so it can be tough to provide services.”

“There are some cities in New Jersey that are very successful when it comes to recycling. By having the summit, we were able to get coordinators from all areas in one room to share stories and ideas. What we discovered is in the cities and urban areas where recycling programs are successful, they educate children in the schools, they reach out to the business community and they enforce the recycling laws by literally opening garbage cans and fining people for violating the law,” said Kozinski.

New Jersey is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Mandatory Recycling Act this year. In 2010, the state reached a 40 percent recycling rate for municipal solid waste, an increase from 37 percent in 2009. Another 1.1 million tons of material per year is needed for New Jersey to reach its 50 percent recycling goal. For more information, visit their website.