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RED BANK: FILM RECYCLING STILL ON, FOR NOW

red-bank-plastic-film-recycling-110321-500x375-4209294White pails for the program were distributed in 2021. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot-topic_03-220x138-2130637Yes, Red Bank will collect plastic film for recycling Wednesday, despite the recent end of a one-year pilot program, a borough official told redbankgreen.

A post by Councilperson Ed Zipprich in the December issue of the monthly Scuttlebutt borough government newsletter reported that the plastic film collection project was “concluded,” without any information about what might happen next.

“That created a lot of confusion,” Environmental Commission Chairperson Nancy Facey-Blackwood, said at the council’s January 11 session.

Since then, the council has held an additional meeting without resolving whether and how to proceed, despite hearing from 18 or residents who wrote in asking that it be made permanent.

In spite of its uncertain future, the once-a-month pickup will be made Wednesday, interim Administrator Darren McConnell told redbankgreen Sunday.

The fate of the program had been referred to the public utilities committee for discussion, he noted. But as of last week, the committee had not had an opportunity “to discuss the plastic film in depth with those council members and Gary Watson,” the interim public utilities director, McConnell said.

At the council’s January 25 session, Zipprich, who chairs the utilities committee, said its analysis of the program would include a review of costs.

Under the 2021 agreement with program sponsor S.C. Johnson & Sons, a consumer products giant, Red Bank became the fourth New Jersey municipality to recycle plastic film, with hundreds of dedicated pails given out to more than 500 homeowners who requested them.

Last year, residents put 4,300 pounds of plastic film curbside for recycling under the program, Blackwood said. “That’s 4,300 pounds that didn’t go into landfills,” she said.

Those without pails may use their own receptacles. The film products must be separate from other recyclable material.

The plastic, picked up by a DPU employee over the course of a six-hour run – rather than the private trash hauler contracted to collect other recycling and garbage – is stored at the public works yard on Chestnut Street, said Blackwood.

From there, it goes to Mazza Recycling Services in Tinton Falls, where it is combined with plastic film picked up in Bradley Beach and Matawan, two other pilot municipalities that have gone on to continue with their own programs. Mazza holds the plastic until a buyer is found, Blackwood said.

Like glass, scrap metal and other materials, “the plastic sits until they have a buyer. That’s the nature of the business,” she said. Buyers transform the plastic into pellets, which are later used to make other products, such as decking.

Blackwood said the program was “very effective” in Red Bank, partly because it helped to “raise awareness about the volume of plastic in our lives.”

Mike Beeson, an Ocean Township resident who helped launch the program for S.C. Johnson, told the council at the January 25 session that the company was “working with Mazza to find end markets” for the material.

Red Bank, he said, had become “a model nationally” for the program.

Resident Boris Kofman urged the council not only to continue the program but to expand it so that residents of apartment complexes would also be able to participate.

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