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NJ Spotlight Map: How Does Essex Stack Up With Recycling?

Data shows Essex County staying even with recycling, while many counties are recycling less waste than in mid-1990s.

Residents in Essex County are doing a pretty good job recycling their waste. In a county where 1.57 million tons of waste was generated, 61.6 percent was recycled, according to NJ Spotlight's latest interactive map.

Overall, New Jerseyans are recycling less of their waste than they did in the mid-1990s, data from the state Department of Environmental Protection show.

At the peak, residents across the state were recycling 61 percent of what they discarded in 1996 and 1997. That number dropped to 57 percent statewide in 2009.

Prior to the enactment of the state’s mandatory recycling law a quarter of a century ago, 10 percent or less of waste was recycled. The law initially set a goal of recycling 25 percent of the municipal solid waste stream, but its success succeeded that and in 1992, the state sought to have half of local waste recycled and 60 percent of all refuse systemwide by the end of 1995. It met that goal, but then rates began falling in 1998.

In 2009, recycling compliance varied significantly by county. Two of the state’s wealthiest counties—Somerset and Hunterdon—were the only ones recycling less than half of waste. Cumberland recycled the most, almost 70 percent of all refuse.

NJ Spotlight’s map shows the recycling rate for each county. Click on a county (see the map here) to get more information, including the total amount of waste generated and the tons generated per person (in Essex County, the typical resident generated 2 tons of waste in 2009).

Essex County Data

Total waste generated: 1,572,086 tons
Per person: 2.0 tons
Total disposed: 603,710 tons
Total recycled: 968,376 tons
Percent recycled 2009: 61.6%
Percent recycled 2008: 61.6%
One-year rate change: 0.0

NJ Spotlight is an online news service providing insight and information on issues critical to New Jersey.

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