Public trash cans cluttered with soda cans, glass bottles, and newspapers all mixed together will be a thing of the past in the Secaucus Plaza when the town rolls out a downtown public recycling program this fall.
The town will soon become the second municipality in the state to work with Greener Corners, a Rutherford-based company founded to boost recycling efforts in such public spaces as parks, city centers, and transportation hubs.
The company offers the service free of charge to the town since local businesses will buy ad space on the sides of the new public recycling bins. Greener Corners gets the bulk of the ad revenue, which is used to cover the cost of bin maintenance, but shares a portion of it with the town.
“Basically, the receptacles will be concentrated in the Plaza area and will probably go any place where you see a trash can now,” said Kevin O’Connor, assistant superintendent of the Secaucus Department of Public Works (DPW).
“We pay $90 a ton in tipping fees to dispose of our solid waste. So, the less solid waste we have, the less money we have to pay to discard it.” – David Drumeler
“Greener Corners supplies and maintains the bins at no cost to the town,” said Aaron Klein, a principal in Greener Corners. “We do ongoing routine scheduled cleaning and maintenance of the [bins], and that includes graffiti removal, blemish removal. If there’s damage to the [bins] we’ll repair them, or we’ll replace them if there’s a bin that’s rendered unusable.”
The town’s DPW, O’Connor said, will dispose of whatever gets collected in the litter and recycling bins.
“Secaucus gets to keep the recyclables and sell them off as commodities for a profit,” said Klein.
“This will also save us money by keeping waste out of the waste stream,” said Town Administrator David Drumeler. “We pay $90 a ton in tipping fees to dispose of our solid waste. So, the less solid waste we have, the less money we have to pay to discard it.”
Benefits the environment
Of course, public recycling isn’t just good for the bottom line; it’s also good for the environment.
“I don’t endorse people drinking bottled water all the time and using plastic bottles. But let’s face it, people do it,” said Secaucus resident and Hackensack Riverkeeper Captain Bill Sheehan. “If they throw them in a garbage can, the bottles end up in the landfill – and that’s if they stay in the garbage can. Of course, they often wind up rolling down the street and washing out into the Hackensack River.”
In a town like Secaucus where, Sheehan said, many residents are already accustomed to recycling in their homes and businesses, if there are opportunities to recycle in public, community members will take advantage.
“In Garfield [the only town where the program is already up and running], we went from zero recycling in public to diverting 80 to 90 percent of their recyclable material,” Klein stated. “When you look in their recycling bins, you see that only 10 percent of their trash is actual litter.”
Greener Corners is currently in preliminary discussions to implement their public recycling model in Hoboken and in Jersey City’s Liberty State Park.
Taking recycling further
The Greener Corners program isn’t the town’s first foray into recycling in public spaces.
According to O’Connor, when Mayor Mike Gonnelli was superintendent of the DPW, he had separate trash bins placed around town designated for recycling.
Greener Corners will now try to take the effort further.
The company first approached Secaucus in February, Drumeler said, and later submitted a proposal to do recycling after the town decided to issue a Request for Quotes (RFQ).
“Because we’ll get a small percentage of the advertising revenue [from the bins], we wanted to see if there were any other companies out there that would give us a higher return than Greener Corners,” Drumeler said. “So we did an RFQ.”
He added that so few companies currently do this type of work that Greener Corners was the only respondent to the RFQ.
E-mail E. Assata Wright at email@example.com.