Solid Waste Control
People fail recognize the importance of an effective county & municipal solid waste program. When it is done correctly, most residents discard their trash with minimal thought or effort and let the public workers take over from there. They never see the public & private workforce army that it takes to make sure the waste is handled safe and efficiently. They never see the effort involved to ensure that the disease & pestilence that are harbored in putrescent waste are kept at bay. Most don’t recognize how expensive this process is or how important it is to recycle.
By in large the Cumberland County Improvement Authority and the municipal governments handle these responsibilities beautifully. They provide all of the services at the lowest cost possible and operate with little celebration or reward. They continue to make choices that make recycling easier for the community which ultimately helps to keep the cost of waste disposal low.
With so many working parts in the waste disposal process and so much focus on delivering services at a low cost, it is easy to see where regulations can get overlooked. The Cumberland County Health Department has the role of ensuring that all of the solid waste generators, transporters, recyclers, and disposal facilities follow the solid waste regulations outlined in N.J.A.C. 7:26. The Health Department averages about 750 solid waste related inspections per year, or roughly 15% of our total division activities. Here are a few examples of how we regulate the solid waste industry in Cumberland County;
Generators – residents and businesses generate trash & recyclables. The townships are responsible for ensuring that the residents are separating out their recyclables but the health department works with governmental and commercial facilities to ensure that they are recycling properly and having their waste picked up frequently enough.
Transporters – All commercial solid waste transporters need to be registered with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Once they are registered, they need to label their transport vehicles appropriately to show their registration status. Transporters are required to secure their loads so that nothing blows out while driving down the road and they are only permitted to access the landfill by certain highways. Additionally, Cumberland County has a regulation called “waste flow” that prohibit any waste that is generated in Cumberland County from being disposed of at a facility outside of Cumberland County. The Health Department inspects the solid waste transporters to ensure that all of these regulations are being followed. We also assist commercial solid waste self-generators with completing their application to get registered with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
Recyclers – Recycling is a big part of Cumberland County. We have roughly 53 different recycling sites in the county, each with its own unique operation and state approval. Some are public facilities and some are private. Some recycle other people’s materials and some recycle their own. Regardless of their size or ownership, all of the recycling facilities must follow the State’s regulations & approval conditions. The Health Department conducts inspections at all of the theses facilities throughout the year. Occasionally some facilities will be jointly inspected with a New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection representative.
Disposal Facilities – In the rural parts of the county, everyone takes their trash to the “dump”. This is actually an old term that just easier to say then the actual name for the facility they are actually taking their trash to, a convenience center. In the old days people would take their trash to the side of a hill and dump all the waste over the side. The trash would then be burnt at night or covered over buy the dump operator. These old facilities still exist and are inspected as “closed landfills”. Many of the closed landfills are in the same location as the convenience centers that are in use today. Today’s convenience centers have may large containers that allow for residential wastes to be sorted in a variety of ways. There are recycling containers, bulky waste containers, waste oil & antifreeze containers, and of course just plain trash containers. This system makes it easier for the municipalities to collect and haul the waste to its final destination. The recycling is transported to the recycling facilities and the waste is transported to the Cumberland County Improvement Authority Landfill. Once the material is taken to the landfill, it is compacted into the smallest amount possible and then covered with soil so that it can decompose safely. Most all of the waste water and gasses from the decomposing material are captured, treated, and then reused. Both the convenience centers and the landfill receive inspections from the Health Department. The landfill also receives inspections from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection representatives.
Complaints & Illegal Dumping – illegally dumped solid waste is a menace that the entire county struggles with. The costs to cleanup roadside dumping is a tremendous burden for both the municipalities and the county. The Health Department conducts thorough investigations on the dump sites and then either charges the responsible party in the local courts or turns the investigations over to the jurisdictional police department.
For more information regarding Solid Waste Control, please contact: Emma Nolan (856) 327-7602 x7126
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