Backgroound Image

What’s New

Mercer County Bike Drive on April 13

Do you have a bicycle that you no longer use? Maybe you have one your child has outgrown? Consider donating it for a good cause.

The Mercer County Planning Department and the Mercer County Park Commission are hosting a bike drive for the benefit of the Boys & Girls Club Bike Exchange. This non-profit run by 50 volunteers collects, conditions, and sells used, quality bikes to people in the Trenton area. Read the complete information flyer here: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/NJMERCER/bulletins/38bb80d

Time: noon to 4:00 pm. The drop off locations are:

  • Mercer County Park, Ranger Headquarters, 334 S Post Rd, West Windsor, NJ 08550 (Google Map)
  • Historic Hunt House, 197 Blackwell Rd, Pennington, NJ 08534 (Google Map)

Scrap Metal Collection on Feb. 10, 2024

The Hopewell Valley Green Team will host a scrap metal collection on Saturday, February 10, 2024. Please bring your assorted scrap metal (nothing extremely heavy) to the Hopewell Township Public Works Building between 12:00 and 3:00 p.m. and we will make sure it is recycled for you. This will be our first try at collecting scrap metal, so let’s make it a great success! Volunteers are needed to staff the event — please contact us if you’re interested: hvgreenteam@gmail.com. Acceptable materials are listed here: https://hopewellvalleygreenteam.org/recycling/recycling-events/

Those Confusing ♻︎ Symbols

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency acknowledges that recycling symbols on plastic consumables are confusing. As CBS News reported on July 31, 2023, the agency advocates changing some of them. The official comment cited in this report, issued by the EPA to the Federal Trade Commission, reads in part:

EPA recommends that the FTC address confusion created by the chasing arrows symbol and the resin identification codes by revising the Green Guides to reflect the intention of the ASTM standard for resin identification coding. EPA believes the use of the RIC with the chasing arrows symbol constitutes a misrepresentation and violation of claims prohibited under Section 5 of the FTC Act – “A representation, omission, or practice is deceptive if it is likely to mislead consumers acting reasonably under the circumstances and is material to consumers’ decisions.” Consumers generally understand the chasing arrows triangle to represent a universal recycling symbol and interpret it to mean that the product is recyclable, and its use with the resin identification codes influences consumer decisions on how they dispose of plastic products.

According to ASTM standard D7611/D7611M, the intention of the coding system was never to determine the recyclability of a product, but to determine resin composition and quality control measures before recycling. Not all resin codes can be recycled currently in the United States. Resin codes 3-7 cannot be recycled in most material recovery facilities and do not have strong end markets. The issue is not the resin codes themselves, but the implication that all of them can be recycled. This implication is made when the numbers are combined with the chasing arrows symbol, which is why the combination becomes deceptive or misleading. As such, the current ASTM standard no longer uses the chasing arrows symbol to surround the number and has switched to an equilateral triangle. Moreover, California passed SB 343, which prohibits the use of the chasing arrows or any other indicator of recyclability on products and packaging unless certain criteria are met.

EPA believes updates to the FTC Green Guides “recyclable” claims can be a tool to reduce consumer confusion that contributes to recycling facilities receiving many plastic materials that they do not accept and cannot recycle, which adds a financial burden to facilities and taxpayers to haul, process and ultimately incinerate or landfill this contamination.

Download and read the entire comment by EPA on Green Guides Review, Matter No. P954501, here: https://www.regulations.gov/comment/FTC-2022-0077-1366

Food Waste Pick-up Services In Hopewell Valley

Residents of Hopewell Valley are able to subscribe to regular curbside pick-up of their food waste by two local services:

Both services provide finished compost to subscribers for use in gardens/yard. Some of the great benefits of diverting food waste from the landfill into compost are described here as well as on each of the services’ websites.

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.

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).

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!