Biggest haul ever at shredding day: 21,000 pounds

Photo by Daniel Jackovino
Recycling coordinator Louise Palagano checks for residency.

BLOOMFIELD, NJ — Bloomfield offered free paper shredding to its residents this past Saturday morning, April 27, and the results were impressive. According to Louise Palagano, the Bloomfield recycling coordinator, more paper was shredded on Saturday than at any other township shredding event over the last three years. The semi-annual disposal was sponsored by the Bloomfield Recycling Committee and the Department of Public Works and Parks Maintenance at a cost of $750. Here are the statistics for the paper shredded:

April 2016: 11,820 lbs./5.51 tons
October 2016: 10,890 lbs./5.45 tons
April 2017: 12,380 lbs./6.19 tons
October 2017: 14,720 lbs./7.36 tons
April 2018: 15,140 lbs./7.57 tons
October 2018: 11,260 lbs./ 5.63 tons
April 2019: 20,980 lbs./ 10.49 tons

In addition to Palagano and the DPW employees, Councilman Nicholas Joanow, the council liaison to the Recycling Committee, was on the ground for the event which was scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon. It was held in the parking lot of the Bloomfield Schools Administration building. Large, blue recycling containers were also given out to residents coming with paper.

“It has been a constant flow of vehicles,” Joanow said. “We’ve given out 174 recycling containers. They’re gone. We could have given out another 100. Since initiating the recycling program, this has been the most prolific day.”

Coming into the parking lot from Belleville Avenue, the cars drove along a barricade of plastic horses. Sometimes bumper-to-bumper, the cars formed a line toward Broad Street where three shredding trucks were parked. But first the drivers had to be checked for residency by Palagano. One man was turned away. He did not live in Bloomfield, but thought he could recycle paper from a Bloomfield business. He could not. This was for residents only.

It was a very windy day. One gust made a plastic horse skim the ground and smack against a car waiting in line. Its driver seemed not to care. Palagano dragged the horse safely away.

The people brought cardboard boxes and plastic bags filled with papers which were taken by the township employees stationed at the trucks. The boxes and plastic bags were removed. The papers were dumped into a large garbage container which was placed on a lift built into the truck. The container was lifted and turned upside-down, its contents disappearing into an unseen opening, the shredder making sounds like a giant power saw.

“Cars pull up to the shredding truck and the documents are shredded in front of them,” Joanow said. “That’s a comfort.”
Palagano said the day had been a huge success because of advertising “We’ve advertised it everywhere,” she said.
As coincidence would have it, a few minutes later, a woman, a senior, drove up and gently complained the event was not advertised enough. Palagano listened to her carefully.

Regarding the lack of enough recycling containers, Palagano later said that should a resident wants one, it can be obtained on Saturdays at the Recycling Center, at 230 Grove St., or during the week at the Public Works yard, the same address.
One might get the idea with the high-water mark for paper shredding set this year that everything is on the upswing. It is not.
Palagano said that is the case at Bloomfield schools. Their recycling dumpsters are overflowing.

She saw the tip of the iceberg because of the Berkeley Elementary School breakfast program which was initiated this academic year. The school was disposing of more paper because of it. Discussions with school administrators about handling this led to the discovery that overfilled recycling containers were a district-wide problem. People were getting into the recycling habit, but the success was more than enough. What needs to be determined now is whether a solution is more paper recycling or more paper trash.

“We’re having on-going meetings with the Board of Education,” Palagano said. “We’re trying to work out a solution with our hauler, Roselle, especially for paper recycling.”