Free App Coaches Long Beach Township Residents, Visitors on Recycling

Oct 18, 2017

What, exactly, is recyclable in this area? What can one do with e-waste? What is the current recycling collection schedule? Long Beach Township residents need only download the free Recycle Coach app, for Apple and Android smartphones, for answers to those and other recycling questions.

Last year, township Sustainability Coordinator Angela Andersen teamed up with Canada-based Recycle Coach to offer the app to assist year-round residents, as well as visitors, who have to familiarize themselves with the municipality's recycling pick-up schedule and may find that recycling rules here vary from those in their hometown.

The app, said Andersen, is a progressive tool that is gaining popularity in New Jersey.

In September, the township’s Recycle Coach app recorded 766 total users, with 81 subscribers, seven of them new that month, and 2,195 resident interactions.

“We just want everyone to be a better recycler,” Andersen explained. “It’s a pretty volatile market out there (for recyclables), so the quality is important.

“It is unfair that the taxpayers and the towns have to carry the burden of trying to decipher what to recycle, while the companies can produce all sorts of stuff and not be held responsible for it once it goes to the market.”

Producer accountability would help tremendously, she added, but that may be a long way off. For now, the aim is to recycle more, and recycle smarter.

In the 1990s, New Jersey set a goal of recycling 50 percent of municipal solid waste. In 1995, according to the Department of Environmental Protection, Ocean County recycled 35.03 percent of its municipal solid waste. In 2015 this number dropped to 31.62 percent.

Ernest J. Kuhlwein Jr., director of the Ocean County Department of Solid Waste Management, told SandPaper writer Rick Mellerup, for a recent article, that the decrease is due, in part, to the fact that recyclables just don’t weigh as much as they did in the past: Newspapers are smaller, and less popular; plastic bottles are flimsier; and glass bottles aren’t as prevalent as plastic ones.

A lack of certainty about what can actually be recycled might also lead to lower rates. “Outreach and education on recycling is an ongoing challenge; what and what not to recycle is confusing,” Andersen remarked. “To compound the ever-increasing amount of products created that don’t get recycled, we have a greater challenge with our ever-rotating residents.”

The Recycle Coach app can help. As website recyclecoach.com explains, “We focus on bridging the gap between local governments and residents. Our technology personalizes local waste and recycling program information and makes it instantly available on demand. We offer free tools to municipalities and haulers to help them connect with residents through traditional and new information channels. We develop innovative ways to help residents better understand the impact of their actions, and teach them to be better recyclers.”

Andersen sees the app as a means to reach younger individuals in particular.

The app offers a quick and simple way to figure out if an item goes into the trashcan or the recycling bin – the “What Goes Where?” component – as well as easy, customized access to the proper recycling collection schedule, and a quiz to aid in becoming a better recycler.

All Long Beach Township recycling information, Andersen pointed out, is also available on the township’s Department of Public Works website, longbeachtownship.com/departments/public-works, and in the recycling calendar that is mailed to residents each year. (Calendars are available at town hall for residents who did not receive one.)

As Recycle Coach states, “We believe more can be done to increase recycling rates and divert waste from landfills and, by doing so, create economic benefit, realize energy savings and reduce carbon emissions.”

“Recycling is a tool for sustainable materials management,” Andersen noted, and the app is “a tool that makes recycling easier to understand.” —J.K.-H. 

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.