Townships landfill sells recycled products
Recycling has caught on in many communities, and millions of consumers have grown comfortable with it. But in many cases, people depositing a plastic jug or glass into a recycling container have no idea what the material eventually will be used for. That is not the case in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. The Atlantic County Utilities Authority (ACUA), which is responsible for collecting the townships recyclables, has begun turning residents recyclables into consumer products.
The authoritys EcoProducts line was actually the solution to one of its most pressing problems. The citys household hazardous waste collection program, begun in 1988, had never paid for itself, and, by the mid-1990s, was seriously in the red. So, when bulky waste recycling and source separation of yard wastes became common supplements to state-mandated recycling programs, the authoritys directors decided to introduce EcoProducts.
The line consists of four main product categories: EcoSoil, EcoChips, EcoMulch and EcoPaint. The latter, recycled latex paint, has proven successful at generating revenue and reducing hazardous waste disposal fees.
The paint is reprocessed, repackaged and sold for $8 a gallon. It is available in different colors and can be used for either interior or exterior applications. Industry, commercial painters, schools, municipalities and nonprofit groups are among the biggest buyers. Since the paint recycling program began in 1994, more than 500,000 pounds of paint have been collected. We are subsidizing the program to some extent, says ACUA Vice President Jim Rutala. However, the paint sales, along with the elimination of previous paint disposal costs, have enabled the authority to dramatically reduce the HHW programs operating deficit, he says.
Marketed as a low-budget landscape mulch, EcoChips is made from clean wood including lumber, pallets and other nontreated wood surfaces. It is shredded twice in a tub grinder and colored red with an environmentally friendly dye.
EcoSoil, a 100 percent organic compost, is marketed in bulk or in single 40-pound bags. Sold by more than 50 distributors in seven South Jersey counties, it is used for sod and turf establishment, as a blended topsoil component, for peat moss replacement, and for flower beds and vegetable gardens. Made from leaves, grass and brush, EcoSoil contains no chemicals or sewage sludge.
In 1997, ACUA added EcoMulch to its product line. A dark brown, double-shredded hardwood mulch, EcoMulch (and EcoRoot Mulch, a black root mulch) is purchased from outside vendors by ACUA. Both mulches have been popular additions to the countys recycled-product line.
In fact, because of their success, the authority plans to purchase a larger tub grinder this year. The grinder, which will accommodate large materials such as stumps, logs and other tree parts, will help produce additional tipping fee revenues and enable ACUA to produce EcoMulch and EcoRoot Mulch in-house.
The authoritys HHW program also accepts used motor oil, antifreeze and car/boat batteries. Those materials are sold to outside vendors for recycling. For more information about the authoritys recycling program and product line, contact ACUA at (609) 646-5500.