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Decarbonize Your Home

For HV Green Week in April 2022 the Hopewell Valley Green Team hosted a virtual forum, “Decarbonize Your Home.” The HVGT and local experts outlined a variety of options and provided many resources which are now summarized here (energy efficiency), here (electrification) and here (renewable energy).

A video recording of the webinar can be viewed on YouTube here.

Mercer County Greening Together Week 2022

April 22 is Earth Day and the seven days that follow will be an environmental celebration presented by the Mercer County Sustainability Coalition. On April 23-24 and 29-30, outdoor in-person activities are planned throughout the area. Online seminars will be presented each evening April 24-28, and a Green Get Together at Lawrence High School is on the schedule for April 30. All events and seminars are free. The full schedule and registration info can be found here: https://mercersustainabilitycoalition.org/greening-together-2022/

Hopewell Vally Green Week 2022

The week of April 18-24 is Hopewell Valley Green Week 2022. Daily events are planned for district, school, and community-based activities focusing on environmental challenges and solutions. The HV Green Team is participating in two events:

From 12 noon to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 23, we team up with the CHS Youth Environmental Society to organize the first-ever Green Week Repair Cafe. Location: Central High School Community Room

At 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 24, we host a virtual forum about “Decarbonizing Your Home.” In this interactive session, the HVGT and local experts will outline a variety of options and provide lots of resources. Topics will include: Energy Efficiency; Switching to Electric Heating; Renewable Energy. (Details at the page linked above.)

No Styrofoam collection in February 2022

Unlike in years past, the Hopewell Valley Green Team could not schedule a collection event in the month of February. The recycling company that previously accepted the mountain of expanded polystyrene material we collected now requests it to be in condensed form (densified). Check back later this year for news about future events where this operation may be performed on-site.

Recycled content law will also ban styrofoam peanuts

In January, 2022, NJ Governor Phil Murphy signed into law legislation requiring an increase in the content of post-consumer recycled plastics, glass and paper in various packaging products (S2515/A4676).

Beginning in 2024…

  • sale of polystyrene loose fill packaging (“peanuts”) will be prohibited.
  • rigid plastic containers shall contain at least 10% post-consumer recycled content. In 2027 this minimum increases to 20%; in 2030 to 30%; in 2033 to 40%; in 2036 to 50%. (Exclusions are made for plastic containers for drugs, dietary supplements, medical devices, cosmetics, toxic or hazardous products, and for refillable/reusable containers.)
  • plastic beverage containers (bottles, etc.) shall contain at least 15% post-consumer recycled content. In 2027 this minimum increases to 20%; in 2030 to 25%; in 2033 to 30%; in 2036 to 35%; in 2039 to 40%; in 2042 to 45%; in 2045 to 50%. (An exclusion is made for refillable beverage containers.)
  • glass containers shall contain at least 35% post-consumer recycled content. However, if at least half of the recycled content is mixed-color waste glass, then minimum proportion is lowered to 25%.
  • paper carry-out bags shall contain at least 40% post-consumer recycled content. However, if the bag holds 8 pounds or less, then the minimum recycled content is lowered to 20%.
  • plastic carry-out bags shall contain at least 20% post-consumer recycled content. In 2027 this increases to 40%.
  • plastic trash bags shall contain at least 5% to 20% (depending on thickness) post-consumer recycled content. In 2027 this minimum increases to between 10% and 40%. (Exclusions are made for trash bags used for medical and hazardous wastes.)

Note that packages or containers for milk products, plant-based “milk” products, medical food, and infant formula are exempt from the above requirements for recycled content.

Summaries and commentary about the new law were published on the websites WasteDive, Resource Recycling, and Beyond Plastics (and elsewhere).

New Jersey’s single-use shopping bag ban to take effect in May 2022

Law also cuts use of polystyrene foam for foods and beverages

A state-wide prohibition on single-use paper and plastic bags typically dispensed by merchants will go into effect on May 4 this year. Read the law here (PDF). HV Green Team member Paul Kinney quantifies and explains the impact of the law in an article published on MercerMe.com. It will supersede the ban on plastic bags enacted by Hopewell Borough in 2020.

Styrofoam coffee cups, egg cartons and other food service items made from polystyrene foam will be banned. However, there are exemptions: trays for meat and fish trays for raw or butchered meat, including poultry; food products pre-packaged by the manufacturer with polystyrene foam; cups of two ounces or less, if used for hot foods or foods requiring lids; and, long-handled polystyrene foam soda spoons when required and used for thick drinks.

The law includes a provision that only allows food service businesses to supply a single-use plastic straw when their customers request one – this rule went into effect November 4, 2021.

Customers and guests at food establishments are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags and containers.

  • Check out New Jersey Clean Communities Council’s single use plastic and paper bag ban outreach campaign BagUpNJ.com.
  • More resources and FAQs for all stakeholders are available at Association of NJ Environmental Commissions’ website NJNoPlastics.
  • The website Treehugger.com has a list of their favorite grocery bags.

NOT Accepting #5 Plastics

Until further notice the Green Team is not accepting #5 plastics at the Pennington Farmers Market. When we tried to deliver our first load of to Whole Foods in late June we learned that they had stopped accepting #5’s just a week earlier. It seems that this step was taken because Preserve has stopped taking #5’s for their Gimme 5 Program (at least for the next several months).

This turn of events came as quite a shock to us. We had inquired in the spring to make sure the program was continuing, and even dropped off a test bag at the loading dock several weeks prior. If we knew the program was ending we wouldn’t have accepted #5’s at the Farmers Market on June 26. But we did collect them and in fact received a new record amount: 711 pounds. (At our June collection last year we received 335 pounds.)

To responsibly dispose of what was collected the Green Team did find an alternative: by special arrangement we planned a one-time delivery to Bayshore Recycling Corporation of all the plastics collected in June. However, this alternative is not something we can sustain so we are asking everyone to stop bringing their #5s to us this summer.

If this situation frustrates you as much as it does us, please take action by (1) contacting the Mercer County Improvement Authority to implore them to include #5 plastics in the collection stream when the contract for county recycling pickup is renegotiated; (2) seek alternatives to products that come in #5 containers – for example, make yogurt from scratch!

Pennington Farmers Market Collection 2021

Saturday, August 28 (9 am – 1 pm) will be our next monthly upcycling/recycling collection event at the PFM in 2021. Once again we will be accepting: clean ♷ (number 5) plastic containers and lids; dental care products (toothpaste tubes with cap, toothbrushes, floss containers); stick deodorant containers; wine bottle corks (not plastic); Brita and Pur water filters; button cell batteries; and, CDs/DVDs.

New: collection box for cell phones, MP3 players, chargers, digital cameras, tablets, and Bluetooth devices. Once filled, the box will go to The Wireless Alliance and the value of the devices will benefit the Pennington Farmers Market.

Click here for more information. Note: we will not be collecting alkaline batteries, athletic balls or pens/pencils/markers this summer.

Area Farmers Markets

Hopewell Valley area farmers markets are reopening for the new season. They are an excellent way to buy locally-raised and produced goods directly from our neighbors, reducing the carbon footprint of food consumption and strengthening the local economy.

Sundays 9 am to 2 pm: Hopewell Borough Farmers Market kicked off the season on May 9th. Located at 62 East Broad Street, in the courtyard between PNC Bank and Michael’s Deli, the vendors at the market include Fairgrown Farm, Beechtree Farms, Sprouts Flowers, Queen Mab’s CSM, Bearded Goat Fine Foods, Milk & Cookies, Hopewell Valley Vineyards, and Our World of Choices.

Saturdays 9 am to 1 pm: Pennington Farmers Market opening day is May 29th. Located at 101 Route 31 north of Pennington, on the lawn in front of Rosedale Mills, the vendors include Chickadee Creek Farm, Nine Acre Farm, Beechtree Farms, Bubbly Jen’s, Louis Organics, The Shepherd’s Pasture, Queen Mab’s CSM, Bearded Goat Fine Foods, Cafe du Pain Bakery, Hopewell Valley Vineyards, and Sourland Spirits. The Hopewell Valley Green Team will start collecting recyclables on June 26.

Additional farmers markets in the areas around Hopewell are listed here.