Recycling in Cape May County, NJ

McMahon RecycleThe world has changed a lot in the past century. More garbage is generated now than ever before. The average American discards four and a half pounds of garbage every day. This garbage goes mostly to landfills, where it’s compacted and buried. As the waste stream continues to grow, so will the pressures on our landfills, our resources, and our environment.

In New Jersey, all residents and businesses are required to recycle by law. It all comes back to you. Recycling gets down to one person taking action. New products can be made from your recyclable waste material. Recycling is good for our environment, our communities, and our economy.

What Can I Recycle?

Knowing what you can and can’t recycle isn’t easy.

But when you put stuff that can’t be recycled into that blue bin, it can turn entire hauls of otherwise recyclable materials into trash.

People try to recycle everything. Waste management workers routinely find bowling balls, batteries, Christmas lights, animal carcasses, even dirty diapers. In 2018, about 25% of items that Americans tried to recycle were actually non-recyclable trash, known as “contamination.” The more contamination that enters recycling plants, the more likely a waste management company will simply send the entire haul, including items that could be recycled, to a landfill.

Watch the video to learn more about Americans’ recycling habits and how you can prevent recycling contamination:

A common question- are pizza boxes recyclable? According to Peninsula Sanitary Service, Inc.:

“Pizza boxes are made from corrugated cardboard, however the cardboard becomes soiled with grease, cheese, and other foods once the pizza has been placed in the box. Once soiled, the paper cannot be recycled because the paper fibers will not be able to be separated from the oils during the pulping process.”

Single Stream Recycling: Locally, Cape May County in South Jersey uses the Single Stream Recycling method which is when recyclable materials may be mixed together and set out at curbside for collection in a single recycling container. No need to put news and other papers, boxes etc. in one recycling container and aluminum and steel cans, plastics, glass in a separate recycling container. All Single Stream Recyclables placed in one Recycling Container.

The Single Stream Recyclable System also enabled Cape May County to expand the list of recyclable materials that can be recycled. This list includes, but is not limited to, dry food boxes, paper towel rolls, clean pizza boxes, hard plastics containers up to 2.5 gallons in size, margarine tubs, microwave trays, and yogurt containers.

  • Paper, Plastic, Metal, Glass – it all goes in one container for curbside collection. Along with steel (Tin), aluminum, glass containers, cardboard, magazines, news and other paper.
  • All paper and cardboard items that do not contain waxy coatings, food, food waste, or bodily fluids.
  • All plastic items less than 5 gallons in size.
  • All metal items less than 5 gallons in size.
  • All glass containers less than 5 gallons in size.

DO NOT RECYCLE (in your curbside container)

·         Food Contaminated Boxes ·         Paint Cans
·         Styrofoam Packaging ·         PVC Pipes
·         Polystyrene Egg Cartons ·         Light Bulbs
·         Plastic Bags ·         Any hazardous chemical or substance
·         Window Glass or Broken Glass ·         Wax-coated Cardboard Boxes
(Seafood Storage)
·         Beverage Cups

Here’s a link to NJ county websites for hazardous waste collections  and collections of specific materials that are not commonly collected from outside your home.

How does recycling work?

There are three parts to the recycling process: Collection, Manufacturing and Buying. These three components are so important that they are represented by the three “chasing arrows” of the recycling logo.

Collection – Don’t Send Recyclables To The Landfill
In this phase, materials are separated from the waste stream and prepared to become raw materials. Different cities and municipalities have different systems for sorting and collecting materials that can be recycled.

Manufacturing – Using Recycled Materials Instead Of Raw Materials
Recovering the materials is just the first step. There must also be a market for it – companies that want the materials and are able to remanufacture them into consumer products. Sometimes these companies have to invest a significant amount of money in adapting their manufacturing processes to accommodate the use of recycled materials in their products.

Buying – “Close The Loop” By Buying Products With Recycled Content
In order to make recycling economically viable, there must be a market for recycled products. If people buy them, companies will be encouraged to make them, and the whole system works.

Association of NJ recyclers – The Association of New Jersey Recyclers (ANJR) has put together a database of businesses in New Jersey that make products, made from recycled materials, providing a great resource for finding products that you can buy that will promote greater recycling in the Garden State. The database can be easily searched for particular items and then provides you with a list of businesses that sell that particular product type, made from recycled materials. You can then contact the business yourself to see what items they have in stock and if they are suitable for your requirements.

Plastic Recycling

Recyclable plastic usually comes with a little recycling symbol printed on the bottom and depending on the product, there might be a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 stamped in the center of the symbol.

The number is a resin identification code, used to help recycling plants sort materials. Recyclable plastics are labeled with numbers 1-7 to tell workers what kind of plastic it is, and how it should be processed. But it also helps recycling collectors determine what items they can accept — and which ones go in the trash.



More materials recycled, less waste going into the Landfill. It’s a win-win for all of Cape May County, the economy, and environment.




Cape May County Single Stream Recycling
Recycling NJ
Cape May County Public Works
Cape May County Recycling Programs List of “Designated” Recyclables
NJ State recycling information