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Single-Stream: Recycling It Right

If you are fortunate to live in one of the Morris County municipalities that participate in the MCMUA’s curbside recycling collection program, you have a great opportunity to help the environment by recycling right. In this article, I will explain what the MCMUA’s single-stream recycling collection program is, how it works, and why it is important to follow the recycling guidelines.

What is single-stream recycling?

Single-stream recycling means that you can put all your acceptable recyclable materials in one container, without having to separate paper from bottles and cans. The MCMUA collects recyclables at the curb and delivers them to a state-of-the-art facility operated by Republic Services in Mine Hill, NJ. There, the recyclables are sorted, baled, and sold to manufacturers who use them to make new products.

Take a 10-minute tour of the Republic Services Recycling Facility located in Mine Hill, NJ narrated by facility manager Eric Gabrielson. See how single-stream recycling is separated into its components ready to be trucked off a variety of recycling markets that turn these materials into new products. This may help you make better decisions on how to recycle right.

What are the benefits of single-stream recycling?

Single-stream recycling has many benefits for you and the environment. Here are some of them:

  • It makes recycling easier and more convenient for you. You don’t have to sort your recyclables or use multiple bins for multiple materials. You just need one container for all the acceptable recyclables. Please remember that the container cannot be heavier than 50 pounds when full. As such, it is recommended to use multiple containers when you have a lot of recycling. Good job!
  • It increases recycling rates and reduces waste. Studies have shown that single-stream recycling can increase the amount of materials recycled by 25% or more. This means less waste going to landfills.
  • It saves energy and natural resources. Recycling reduces the need for extracting, refining, and processing raw materials, which consumes a lot of energy and water, and generates greenhouse gas emissions. Recycling also preserves natural resources such as trees, metals, and oil, some of which are finite and non-renewable.
  • It creates jobs and supports the local economy. Recycling supports many industries that employ thousands of people in New Jersey and beyond. The Republic Facility in Mine Hill is a large employer right here in Morris County. Overall, recycling is still less expensive than disposal via landfill which ultimately helps lower the overall cost of waste management costs and hopefully taxes.

Why is it important to follow the recycling guidelines?

While single-stream recycling makes recycling easier for you, it also requires more responsibility from you. You need to make sure that you only put acceptable items in your recycling bin, and that they are clean, empty and dry. You also need to avoid putting unacceptable items in your recycling bin, such as plastic bags, food waste, Styrofoam, plastics codes #3,4, 6 and 7, batteries, electronics, clothing, or hazardous materials.

Why is this so important? Because putting unacceptable items in your recycling bin can contaminate the recyclable materials, making them harder or impossible to recycle. Contamination can also damage the equipment at the recycling facility, cause safety hazards for the workers, increase the cost of processing, and reduce the quality and value of the recycled products.

How can you recycle right?

The MCMUA has implemented a “tag-it and leave-it” inspection program to ensure that only acceptable materials are collected for recycling. If your recycling bin contains too many unacceptable items, it will be tagged with a notice explaining why it was not collected, and left at the curb. You will have to remove the unacceptable items and wait until the next scheduled collection day to have your recyclables picked up.

Morris County District Recycling Coordinator, Anthony Marrone and Long Hill Township Municipal Recycling Coordinator, Al Gallo inspecting and then tagging a non-compliant recycling container during a “Tag It and Leave It” inspection campaign.

– May 2022

Recycling right is easy if you follow these simple steps:

  • Check the list of acceptable and unacceptable items on the MCMUA’s website or on the town calendar or informational guide that should have been mailed to you. If you are not sure if something is recyclable or not, email
  • Rinse out any bottles, cans, jars, or cartons that contained food or beverages. Remove any caps or lids and put them in the trash.
  • Flatten any cardboard boxes or paperboard containers (such as cereal boxes). You may stack many flattened boxes into one unflattened box but do not tie or bundle any paper or cardboard.
  • Put all your recyclables loose in one container preferable one with a lid to prevent litter and to prevent he materials from getting wet. Do not use plastic bags or liners to hold your recyclables. Plastic bags are not recyclable in this program and can clog the machinery at the recycling facility.
  • Place your recycling container at the curb by 7 a.m. on your collection day. Do not leave any loose boxes or items on the ground.

By following these steps, you will be doing your part to make single-stream recycling a success in Morris County. You will be helping to protect the environment, conserve natural resources, save energy, create jobs, and support our local economy.

Thank you for recycling right with the MCMUA!