Plan ahead and sort it out: 2023 curbside recycling changes in SOMA

MAPLEWOOD / SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Start sorting out your recyclables now. The revamped, dual-stream, curbside recycling program for South Orange and Maplewood kicks off the new year on Jan. 2. Starting in 2023, recyclable materials will need to be separated into two categories for two distinct pickups on alternating weeks. One week’s pickup will be exclusively for fibers, such as cardboard and paper, and the following week’s pickup will be for commingled plastic, glass and metal containers. The revised curbside pickup rhythm will begin each week in Maplewood on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and finish up each week in South Orange on Thursday and Friday. 

The revised system is the two towns’ response to changes in the recycling markets, which have driven costs up for both municipalities at the same time as concerns about the rate of recycling have also increased. 

“By separating our commingled plastic, metal and glass from paper and cardboard, and alternating pickup weekly, we will decrease the contamination of both streams, making them more marketable, and ensure that more of what is recyclable actually gets recycled,” South Orange Village Trustee Bill Haskins said.

“We really couldn’t continue with single-stream and still manage costs, so we need the community’s help in making this dual-stream process work to be more efficient and effective, and they can start by reviewing the lists of what is and is not recyclable curbside,” Maplewood Committeewoman Nancy Adams said.

Acceptable fibers include: Corrugated cardboard; boxboard, such as flattened cereal boxes; paper bags, junk mail, including window envelopes; office paper; newspapers and magazines; and corrugated brown pizza boxes with no grease, and all food and the liner removed.

Acceptable commingled items include: Nos. 1, 2 and 5 plastic containers and bottles with caps; glass bottles of any color and jars with lids; aluminum cans, pie tins and catering trays; steel and tin food cans; gable-top cartons; and juice boxes.

Both Adams and Haskins emphasized that reducing contamination will be key to making the new system work for everyone. That means not putting out the wrong items on the wrong week, not including anything that isn’t on the list of acceptable materials and not “wish-cycling” by including things that cannot be recycled by Bayshore, the two towns’ materials recovery facility. 

A full list of acceptable materials and a detailed list of unacceptable materials are on each town’s website, as well as schedules by neighborhood and frequently asked questions. 

To avoid problems in January, Maplewood and South Orange residents are encouraged to review the recyclable materials lists and begin sorting their recyclables at home now. Maplewood residents should visit and South Orange residents should visit