To book an in-person presentation about recycling for your school, civic group or other organization, contact Heather Miara at the Union County Bureau of Recycling and Planning, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note: State rules cover basic recycling materials. Your local program may include others, too. Always check your local recycling coordinator for the latest updates. Download the free Recycle Coach app to receive notices and schedules in a handy mobile format.
Following are the statewide rules:
1. What goes in my curbside recycling bin?
- Paper products: Cardboard, junk mail, empty boxes (including food boxes), newspapers, magazines, juice and milk cartons, cardboard egg cartons and more. Must be clean and dry. Remove any plastic nozzles, plastic linings, etc.
- Other items: Metal cans, glass bottles and jars, and plastic bottles or jugs labeled #1 and #2. Must be clean and empty with lids removed. Lids go in regular household trash.
Note: Some recyclers also take #5 plastic. Check with your local recycling coordinator to find out if your recycler includes #5 plastic.
2. What does not go in my curbside bin?
Many household items cannot be recycled at curbside. Some can be brought to drop-off sites. Others must be disposed with household trash.
- NO Plastic Bags: Plastic bags will clog the recycler’s sorting systems. Never put plastic bags in recycling bins. Union County residents can bring plastic bags, bubble wrap and many other kinds of plastic film to drop-off recycling sites throughout the County. Visit ucnj.org/recycling/plastic-film and scroll down for a list of locations.
- NO Styrofoam: Styrofoam will contaminate sorting systems. There are several drop-off sites for block-type Styrofoam in Union County. Check with your local recycling coordinator to see if one is available in your municipality.
- NO Pizza Boxes: Grease from the pizza soaks into the cardboard and will contaminate sorting systems. Never recycle pizza boxes, even if they look clean to the eye. Pizza boxes and other plain cardboard can be added to a home compost pile (see #6 below).
- NO Shredded Paper: Shredded paper clogs sorting systems. Dispose with household trash.
- NO Other Items: Curbside recyclers will reject bins with food waste, takeout food containers, plastic or foam egg cartons, dishware, glass, mirrors, paper towels, clothes hangers, flower pots, video tapes, pots and pans, light bulbs, batteries, hoses, shredded paper, syringes and other medical waste. Some of these items can be brought to Union County’s scrap metal and household hazardous waste recycling programs, which run from April to November each year.
A good rule of thumb is: “When in doubt, throw it out — with regular household trash.”
3. How can I recycle more?
Curbside recycling is just one way to reduce household waste. Here are some drop-off recycling opportunities in Union County:
- Household electronics: Bring broken or unwanted TV’s, computers, printers and many other items to a drop-off site in your town. For a list of municipal drop-off sites visit ucnj.org/recycling/electronics-recycling. Best Buy, Staples, and the company Tech Recyclers also take electronics for recycling.
- Unwanted household cleansers, chemicals and potentially hazardous items: Bring to Union County’s free Household Hazardous Waste drop-off events. Find out more.
- Household scrap metal (pots, pans, appliances, wire hangers, gutters, fencing and much more): Bring to Union County’s free scrap metal drop-off sites. Find out more.
- Personal paper shredding: Bring sensitive personal documents to Union County’s free drop-off shredding events. Your documents will be shredded on site by a licensed recycler. Note: No business documents accepted: this service is for personal papers only. Find out more.
- Plastic bags: Clean, dry plastic shopping bags, bubble wrap, bread bags and other kinds of plastic film can be brought to new drop-off sites throughout Union County. The leading company Trex upcycles the film to make decking and other outdoor products. For more details about what kinds of film are accepted and to see a list of drop-off sites visit ucnj.org/recycling/plastic-film.
- Food waste: If you have a yard or garden, start a compost pile at home (see #6 below).
- Wet or dirty cardboard (including wet or dirty cardboard egg cartons): These items can go in a compost pile (see #6 below).
4. What about latex paint?
Many Union County residents are anxious to recycle leftover latex house paint. Unfortunately, latex paint is not recycled in Union County. Store for later use or share if possible. To dispose safely, let it dry in the can with the lid off. When fully dry, dispose whole can with regular household waste. To speed the drying process, add kitty litter or a commercial paint hardener.
Note: Oil-based paint can be recycled at Union County’s Household Hazardous Waste drop-off events. Find out more.
5. What about batteries?
Single-use alkaline batteries can go into household trash. These batteries are clearly marked “alkaline” on the package.
Everything else requires special handling. That includes rechargeable batteries of any type, as well as all “button” type batteries such as those used in smaller electronic devices, and any single use battery marked “lithium.” Bring any of these batteries to Union County’s Household Hazardous Waste drop-off events for safe disposal. Find out more.
6. How can I start composting at home?
If you have a yard or garden, home composting is a simple, effective way to cut down on food waste while conserving valuable resources. Home-made compost is a natural soil enhancer that can help plants thrive without the need for extra fertilizers. Kitchen scraps, yard waste (leaves, grass clippings, etc.) and cardboard (including pizza boxes and carboard egg cartons) can all go into your compost pile. Find out more.