Rep. Chris Smith today said Ocean County will receive a federal Solid Waste Infrastructure for Recycling (SWIFR) grant of $1,867,163 to install a plastic film air conveyance system and baler, an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered optical classification system and technology to analyze the waste stream, as well as a secondary eddy current separator.
“This grant will help the county modernize its long-running recycling efforts,” said Smith. “The county first launched its recycling program in 1985 and ever since has routinely expanded and improved recycling throughout its many communities. This grant will help support its award-winning efforts.”
The funding for the SWIFR grant program comes from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that Smith supported and voted for in 2021, which supports the SWIFR grant program, as well as projects to repair and rebuild roads, bridges, rail lines, tunnels, lead-contaminated water pipes and more while boosting commerce, jobs and economic growth.
“Government at all levels must foster recycling throughout their communities,” Smith said. “It’s good for both the environment of today and tomorrow—and is cost effective by keeping reusable materials out of landfills.”
Ocean County Commissioner Barbara Jo Crea, who is liaison to the county’s Department of Solid Waste Management, said the Board of Commissioners’ willingness to invest in its recycling infrastructure at the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in Lakewood—with over $8 million invested over the past five years—ultimately demonstrated a commitment to recycling that helped it receive the grant award.
The grant will help pay for upgrades at the county’s recycling center on New Hampshire Avenue, off Route 70 in Lakewood.
“Ocean County residents have embraced the Ocean County Board of Commissioners’ recycling efforts since the program was implemented in the 1980s. It has been a huge benefit to our environment and in preserving landfill space,” said Crea. “We continue to build on its strong foundation, adding new services and by updating our material processing facility. This grant will assist us in our efforts to make sure our recyclables meet market standards and allow us to continue to expand our programs and in turn increase the value of recycling in Ocean County.”
“We appreciate the efforts of Congressman Smith working with the EPA in securing this funding for Ocean County,” Crea said. “This will go a long way in our recycling efforts.”
Ocean County plans to use the funding to install:
the AI-powered optical classification system that combines cameras and cutting-edge AI technology to help to analyze the waste stream, and identify potential areas to improve;
a plastic film air conveyance system that removes plastic bags during sorting; and
a secondary eddy current separator, which uses a powerful magnetic field to separate aluminum and aluminum foil from other materials.
The devices will reduce damage to the existing equipment and increase the efficiency of the existing system, which will lead to reduced contamination of the recycling stream and increase the value of recovered materials.
The Ocean County Board of Commissioners and its Department of Solid Waste Management was honored with a 2021 New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Recycling Award in the “Outstanding Educator/Educational Program” category. An awards ceremony organized by the Association of New Jersey Recyclers (ANJR) recognized the county’s recycling efforts, including initiatives like “Recycling Guide For Vacationers (and locals too),” “Recycling Guide For Boaters,” and the “Be Shore To Recycle Right” recycling igloos. Education and outreach efforts improve the County’s overall recycling rate and helped recycling programs capture a greater number of materials, which provides financial and environmental benefits for Ocean County and its residents. Since 1995, when the Recycling Revenue Sharing Program was created, the county has distributed nearly $17 million to the municipalities that participate in the county’s recycling program.
Since 2010, Ocean County has been running a single stream recycling system in order to collect and process recyclable materials, including all bottles, cans, newspapers, cardboard, junk mail, magazines, and mixed paper in one bin at residential homes. In 2021 more than 81,544 tons of material were recycled in Ocean County. The County’s profits for 2021 from the sale of recyclables were almost $2.4 million.
“Once those materials arrive at the County’s Materials Recovery Facility in Lakewood, sorting takes place,” Smith said. “This grant is slated to be used to pay for improvements at the Lakewood facility.”