With New Jersey’s recycling market continuing to shrink, a Recycling Market Development Council was established at the beginning of the year. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting state budget crisis, the group has yet to be empaneled.

Jeff Tittel, the director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, said even in the midst of the coronavirus health crisis it’s critically important to get things moving because the Garden State is also facing a recycling crisis.

He said with China no longer taking most recycled plastic, New Jersey desperately needs to find new vendors to handle recyclable material.

“In many of the counties and towns in New Jersey, residential recycling is down to 30%,” said Tittel. “We used to be at 70% at one time.”

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He said unless we address this issue, “New Jersey is going to continue to throw away more junk into the trash, which means we pay more money in our taxes because of tipping fees. It’s $100 a ton or more to throw stuff in the trash versus recycling it.”

Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey, said the state "had a huge leadership role in the late 80s and early 90s to become really a national leader in recycling." That's no longer the case.

“If we’re not having a comprehensive program and funding programs to recycle as much of our waste as possible, it’s going to end up in landfills," he said.

That means that will cost taxpayers.

"Whatever we don’t recycle has to go somewhere, and someone has to pay for it," O'Malley said.

The  Recycling Market Development Council is supposed to consist of six members, including the environmental commissioner and the state treasurer. The other members would be residents, two who are actively engaged in the recycling industry and two with expertise in the reuse and processing of recycling material.

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