Recycling may be easier than ever before, but fewer Brick residents are doing so in recent months.
Though it's only a small drop – 36 percent of Brick residents recycled this quarter compared to 38 percent last – any drop comes with both surprise and financial concern.
Items eligible for recycling that are thrown in the garbage instead help Brick's tipping fees – the price paid for waste disposal – rise.
"We've seen a little dip in our recycling," said Business Administrator Scott Pezarras. "I don't understand why that is, because now that you're able to throw everything into one can, I would've expected recycling to go up."
Brick, like other Ocean County municipalities, now accepts so-called single-stream recycling, where all recyclable items can be thrown into the same receptacle. That means no more tying up newspapers and cardboard, or separating plastic, metal and glass items.
The township is expected to solicit bids soon for its conversion to automated recycling. The township is expected to use money from its capital budget to purchase automated trucks as well as a 95-gallon can for each household.
The cans, Pezarras said, will likely be purchased through a national cooperative now that state law allows municipalities to team up on purchases with national partners.
For now, township officials continue to identify areas where participation is low, and send out literature explaining how recycling helps the environment, as well as Brick's coffers. An uptick of 10 percent in participation will mean a savings between $210,000 to $220,000 for the township, Pezarras said.
"You'll never get 100 percent compliance, but even if we could get 70, that will be about $800,000," said Pezarras.
Identifying neighborhoods with low participation will get easier once the automated recycling program is in place, Pezarras said. Modern automated recycling cans come with tiny chips located inside that are tracked when the truck dumps its contents.
"Hopefully we'll see improvement in the percentages in our recycling," said Pezarras.