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Try 4 New Ways to Trim Holiday Waste this Year

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the amount of trash generated by American households can jump an average of 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. Union County residents can help reduce excess waste at home by exploring new opportunities to conserve resources.

“Cutting down on waste at the source is important, and we also want to make sure that our residents are aware of new recycling programs that help make a difference,” said Union County Commissioner Chair Rebecca Williams.

The additional waste related to holiday season activity adds up to 25 million extra tons of trash either heading to landfills or burned in incinerators each year in the U.S.

Union County residents can help cut down that number with these four strategies:

1. Keep Up to Date with Local Recycling:  Union County has launched a new plastic film recycling program with municipal partners. Now every resident can recycle bubble wrap, plastic mailing envelopes and several other kinds of plastic film that often enter the home during the holiday season. Please note that all plastic film must be clean and dry.

Another common holiday shipping material is block-type Styrofoam. Many municipalities in Union County provide a drop-off Styrofoam bin for their residents. Please note that only block-type Styrofoam is accepted.

For more details about plastic film, Styrofoam and other recycling programs in Union County, and to find your local recycling coordinator, visit ucnj.org/recycle.

2. Reduce Pumpkin Waste: Last year, Union County residents saved five tons of pumpkins from the waste stream by bringing their Jack o’ Lanterns to the County’s new pumpkin recycling program. The pumpkins are processed locally to make renewable biogas. This year’s pumpkin recycling program is up and running until Monday, November 28. For more details visit ucnj.org/recycle.

3. Compost Holiday Food Waste: Fruit and vegetable scraps, decorative gourds, and other plant-based holiday decorations also account for the big jump in the household waste stream over the holidays. Residents with access to a yard can start a home compost pile to convert these items into a natural, nutrient-rich soil enhancer for their garden beds. For details visit Union County’s community outreach partner, the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County, at ucnj.org/rce.

Residents without a yard can contact their local recycling coordinator or environmental commission to see if a community garden or other local drop-off composting site is available. A list of municipal environmental commissions and green team is available at on the Union County website at ucnj.org/green-connection.

4. Reuse the Reusable Bags: A new state law has helped to stem the tide of single-use plastic bags, but some residents are now finding themselves overwhelmed with excess reusable bags from delivery services, e-commerce sites and other retailers. Excess clean, dry bags can be offered to a local food bank or other charity. Some farmer’s markets also provide space for a free take a bag/leave a bag table.

Another way to avoid accumulating a pile of bags at home is to shop locally and bring your own bags.

Experts from Union County’s Bureau of Recycling and Planning are available to present recycling information to schools, community groups and other organizations. To schedule a program contact Heather Miara, heather.miara@ucnj.org.

The free Recycle Coach mobile app provides a handy way to find out what items are included in curbside recycling programs and drop-off sites in Union County. The app provides up to date information on both countywide and local recycling programs.

For more information and updates on all Union County recycling programs and locations, visit the Bureau of Recycling and Planning website at ucnj.org/recycle.

Quick links to all Union County environmental programs and activities are available at The Green Connection, ucnj.org/green-connection.

For information and updates on all Union County services during the COVID-19 outbreak, including free vaccination, free testing and other support services, visit ucnj.org/covid19. General information about COVID-19 is available through the New Jersey Department of Health at nj.gov/health.

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For all Union County programs and services visit ucnj.org, call the Public Info Line, 877-424-1234, email info@ucnj.org or use the online Contact Form.

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