Written by Bill Swayze; originally published April 2011
Princeton Township Recycling Coordinator Janet Pellichero has a new mantra these days: If it grows, it goes.
The “it” is meat, fish, dairy products, vegetables, houseplants, bread, pasta, sauces, coffee grounds, tea bags, plate scrapings, and fruits, including the pits. And where it’s going is to the curb, but not in a bag to be dumped in the back of a garbage truck and hauled off to a landfill.
Instead, it’s going to be recycled, starting June 6, 2011, when the first curbside organic waste recycling program in New Jersey begins.
“We are thinking outside the can and will make this work. I personally can’t wait to see the trucks roll into town,” said Pellichero, who attributes her success as the township’s innovative recycling coordinator to the programs she took at Rutgers University’s Office of Continuing Professional Education.
“Rutgers was vital, helping me gain the knowledge and contacts through the courses I took. Rutgers has been just phenomenal, both as an amazing networking tool and to help me keep learning. Without Rutgers, I certainly would not have the confidence and knowledge to do what I am doing,” Pellichero said.
Pellichero, 46, is among the hundreds of public employees who enroll each year in the university’s continuing professional education training programs to help them help their municipalities whittle expenses, save taxpayer dollars, and improve services.
By mid-January, every municipality in New Jersey will be required to have its recycling related reports reviewed, signed, and certified by an individual who holds the title of certified recycling professional, or CRP. A CRP has expertise in many facets of solid waste management, including the economics of recycling, promoting and improving local recycling programs and the most cost effective ways to pick up and haul away recyclables.
Rutgers’ Office of Continuing Professional Education provides that knowledge by way of a nine-class, 21-day CRP certification training program for local, county, and state employees and private sector workers with no prior recycling experience.
There is a four-day alternate recycling certification program for those more experienced and trained employees. Once certified, recycling professionals have to complete 20 hours of solid waste and recycling training every two years to keep their CRP title.
Carol Broccoli, the Rutgers recycling program’s coordinator, said Pellichero has taken her recycling program to a new level and that will benefit local homeowners.
“This a great idea. Food waste is about 55 percent of the waste stream in New Jersey,” Broccoli said. “By recycling and composting it, you are reducing how much you put in a landfill and that definitely reduces homeowners’ costs.”
Just how much will be shaved off homeowners’ garbage disposal bills in Princeton Township is not carved in stone. Some 400 homeowners participating in the initial pilot program phase of the recycling initiative are expected to reduce their trash bills by 5 percent, she said.
With 500 homes signing up, another 5 percent will be cut from the bill and if the number of homes doubles to 1,000, another 5 percent reduction will be reached, Pellichero said. Mercer County has the highest solid waste disposal fees in New Jersey, with each ton costing about a $125 tipping fee, but by separating and recycling the organic waste, the tipping fees are reduced as the amount of garbage going to the landfill is reduced.
“Saving landfill space is crucial and this will do that. The organic waste will be recycled and turned into composting,” Pellichero said. “We have been working on this since June of last year. ‘If it grows, it goes,’ we keep telling people and we hope to expand this as much as we can.”
Learn more about Rutgers’ Recycling Courses!
Contact Carol Broccoli at 848-932-7207 or firstname.lastname@example.org.