That’s the question we set out to answer, when a group of Borough stalwarts made the trek into the wilds of Pitman, New Jersey, to visit the Omni Recycling facility to see for ourselves. We were greeted there by the CEO, Kevin Carducci, who gave us a bit of the company’s history and its place in the materials recovery ecosystem, then handed us off to Joe, the facility manager, for the tour.
The mixed “single stream” material first travels through a maze of conveyors, screens, and optical sorting systems, which separate out the glass, aluminum, steel cans, paper, and cardboard. The remaining items, mostly plastics, are then spread out on conveyor belts, where they are manually sorted, an intensive process requiring focus and quick action.
After separation, materials go to the baling station, where they are packed by type: aluminum, #1 and #2 plastics (further separated by clear or colored), paper, and cardboard. Glass is crushed and used for landfill cover and for aggregates. (Fun fact: the temporary repair now being built for I-95 is made with foamed-glass aggregate produced right here in Delco by Eddystone-based Aero Aggregates, LLC from recycled glass.) Omni has markets for all its output, and works with several brokers who sell the materials to companies to use in new products.
And now, the bad news: Omni has a 38% residue rate. That is, for every 100 pounds of “recyclables” that come in, 38 pounds are really trash. And that’s after running it all through the process a second time, which catches about 15% that gets missed on the first pass. That’s a lot of trash, and it raises the recycling costs for everyone, to the tune of $1.2 million each year.
So, folks, let’s get with the program and keep trash out of that green bin!
Rinse out all containers, Remove all caps and discard as trash, Wet paper cannot be recycled
- Narrow neck plastic bottle grade (labeled #1 and #2), including:
- Milk jugs
- Detergent bottles
- Shampoo bottles
- Glass bottles and jars of any color
- Aluminum, steel and tin cans
DO NOT RECYCLE:
- Cardboard milk cartons are not recyclable – they are no longer coated with wax, rather, plastic. Omni’s facilities do not do that separation.
- Don’t crush your aluminum cans. They are still recyclable, but it is harder for the system to separate them.
DO NOT RECYCLE THE FOLLOWING ITEMS
- Plastic bags
- Food scraps
- Needles or syringes
- Medical waste
- Batteries of any kind
- Coat hangers
- Mixed rigid plastics
- Windows, plate glass or mirrors
- Lawn chair and tables
- Lingerie baskets
- Laptop carriers
- Lightbulbs of any kind
- Fluorescent tubes or bulbs
- Tires and rims
- Propane & air tanks
- Mattresses & bed frames
- Caps or lids from bottles
- Gas cans
- Roof shingles
- Yard waste of any kind
- Garden hoses
- PET strapping
- Aseptic packaging (e.g., juice boxes)
- Aluminum foil and pie plates
Author: David Director (Environmental Advisory Council Member)