Residents Can Now Keep Up With Garbage Pickup With Free App

Joann Gemenden, the Bureau Chief of Recycling & Planning presented to the governing body and the public information on Recycle Coach, a solid waste and recycling app.

Recycle Coach is a Toronto, Canada-based company that had its app purchased by the State of New Jersey in January of this year. Union County launched the app four months ago in April. It is free for residents and municipalities to use. The app is already launched officially in 13 of the 21 municipalities in Union County.

Ms. Gemenden touched upon the highlights of the app which includes a schedule of regular, recycling, and bulk waste pickups in Roselle Park.

“It also allows town officials to communicate with all the residents that download it,” said the Union County Recycling Bureau Chief, “If you have a big snowstorm and your recycling is canceled, rather than having to put it on the website you can easily email everybody via the Recycle Coach app that recycling is postponed or canceled.”

She added that the app has a report-a-problem feature, “So if there’s a missed pickup at the town rather than call somebody or email somebody it does it for you just through the app. Just tell them you have a missed pickup and you’re good to go.”

According to Ms. Gemenden, the county has already created the address database and the garbage pickup calendar. The only thing needed at this point is for the governing body to approve it and put it on its website.

Recycle Coach will be both an app and available through a website. It can be downloaded through the Apple App Store and Google Play.

After the presentation, Councilman-At-Large Joseph DeIorio asked if Ms. Gemenden could touch on changes in recycling which has impacted how and what gets recycled in the borough.

“Recycling really hasn’t changed. That’s the most common question I get lately. It’s not that the rules have changed, it’s just [that] we’re enforcing them,” she responded, “What can be recycled at the curbside in your curbside bin has never included plastic bags, it’s never included plastics 3, 4, and 7. There [have] never been markets for that – bags especially – because your recycling has to be sorted. It’s not like garbage that goes into a pile and goes to the waste energy facility.  Every item that goes in your recycling has to be separated and has to be sorted. Plastic bags, I equate it to your vacuum, when you have something clogging up your vacuum – that’s exactly what plastic bags do.”

Ms. Gemenden stated that the issue that has caused strict enforcement is China. She explained, “Our contamination rate in the United States, in general, has always been about 20 to 25% and that’s what’s gone to China which is where all the recycling goes. As of March 1st, China said your contamination rate can’t be greater than 0.5%. Going from 20% to 0.5% is drastic.”

The Union County Recycling Bureau Chief remarked that she has known of municipalities that have gone out to bid in the last three months. She stated, “Their curbside collection costs – bid numbers – have tripled. A lot of that is because the markets are bad. A lot of that is because if the shipment of contaminated material goes to China and it gets sent back it costs the vendor $750,000 to have that happen. We don’t want that to happen. So I understand there’s a lot of resistance whether it’s ‘I want my stuff in plastic bags’ or ‘I want to recycle my pizza box’ but trust me when I tell you we don’t want to try things away that are recyclable but we’re doing the best we can to thwart an economic crisis for all of us.”

Roselle Park News downloaded the app from the Apple as well as the county’s website. Both worked and provided information as well as reminders for days when garbage will be picked up.

The app can be downloaded from the Apple app store (here) and Google Play (here). The link to the website version can be found (here).

A copy of the presentation is available below:

(Download Roselle Park Recycle Coach Presentation)