News Department

New Jersey honors recycling and sustainability leaders during annual awards program

NEW JERSEY– The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Wednesday honored businesses, organizations and individual recycling leaders during an annual symposium hosted by the Association of New Jersey Recyclers (ANJR).

Award winners include a Bergen County health facility that is reducing food waste, a Union County business that has been recycling foam materials since the early 1970s, and Marie Kruzan, the recently retired longtime Executive Director of ANJR.

“My DEP colleagues and I congratulate this year’s award winners and applaud them for sharing their passion for recycling, waste reduction and conservation of resources with all of us,” Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette said. “These leaders are making a difference through the excitement and new ideas they bring to their communities, their businesses and their schools. In doing so, they continue to build upon New Jersey’s tradition of leading the way on recycling for the nation. In addition, we congratulate and thank Marie Kruzan for more than three decades of tireless dedication to advancing the recycling ethic throughout the Garden State through her work with ANJR.”

In 1987, New Jersey became the first state to enact legislation requiring recycling in residential, commercial and institutional settings. Through strong grants and education programs, New Jersey has achieved an overall recycling rate of 55 percent.

“Recycling remains an important way for the public to conserve resources, reduce waste, enhance sustainability, and improve our quality of life,” said Paul Baldauf, Assistant Commissioner for Air, Energy and Materials Sustainability. “These award winners should serve as role models for all of us in our daily lives.”

The DEP urges all residents to participate in their local recycling program and do their part to keep non-acceptable materials, such as plastic bags, trash, propane tanks and used syringes, out of curbside and workplace recycling bins.

Award categories and recipients of the 2023 recycling awards include:

  • Institution – Bergen New Bridge Medical Center

Bergen New Bridge Medical Center in Paramus, Bergen County, implemented food waste reduction measures that prevented 14,562 pounds of food waste from occurring in 2022, which was the equivalent of saving 12,134 meals. The facility’s food waste reduction initiative is run as an employee engagement program, which recognizes team members tracking food waste as Waste Warriors. The entire medical center was included in a campaign to raise awareness about the food waste initiative through their managers, internal communications and posters in food service locations.

  • Business – L’Oreal USA

L’Oreal USA operates facilities in Middlesex, Somerset and Union counties, and implemented recycling and waste reduction initiatives that enabled the company to recycle or reuse 56.5 percent of the waste generated at the company’s New Jersey locations in 2022. L’Oreal recycles plastics, paper, corrugated cardboard, wooden pallets, oils, batteries, IT equipment, food waste and more. The company also recycles non-traditional materials, such as the ethanol used in its fragrances. Additionally, in 2022, 23.3 percent of the packaging used at its New Jersey manufacturing sites was from post-consumer recycled material. As part of L’Oréal’s commitment to sustainability, manufacturing site members are educated about the efficient utilization and preservation of natural resources.

  • Government – Village of Ridgefield Park

The Bergen County community recycles traditional curbside recyclable materials and a wide variety of non-traditional recyclable materials, such as batteries, sneakers, crayons, razors, rigid plastics, bottle caps, cooking oil, expanded polystyrene and more.  In addition, convenient textile and plastic bag recycling drop-off sites have been established throughout the village. Recycling and sustainability programs are promoted through various means, including the Recycle Coach system, social media, the municipal website, recycling calendars, public events, information sessions for the public and through collaborations with schools and other organizations. Reuse is promoted in Ridgefield Park through periodic Swap & Shop events, during which residents trade items they no longer need.

  • Government – Joseph Slomian

Thanks to the leadership of Slomian, Recycling Coordinator for Monroe Township in Middlesex County, the community achieved a 65 percent recycling rate and anticipates an even higher rate in upcoming years. The township collects traditional curbside materials, but also accepts numerous materials at its recycling center, including paint, batteries, used motor and cooking oil, scrap metal, propane tanks, expanded polystyrene and electronics. Under Slomian’s supervision, various upgrades and improvements were made at the recycling center.  In addition, Slomian conducts periodic enforcement audits of curbside recycling and regularly speaks with residents about the need to recycle correctly. He uses the township’s Enviro-Mobile (a mobile learning center), the Recycle Coach system, newsletters, special events, and more to educate residents about recycling.

  • Leadership – Anthony Marrone

Marrone, District Recycling Coordinator for Morris County, has implemented numerous successful recycling and waste reduction programs. He improved the operations of the county’s household hazardous waste program, obtained NJDEP grants for equipment modernization, and addressed a curbside collection crew employee shortage by making a county-run Commercial Driver’s License training program more accessible to staff.  He also designed educational flyers, decals, and signs, instituted a boat shrink wrap recycling program, performed municipal curbside inspections, and assisted municipal recycling coordinators. In addition, Marrone established an intern program for students seeking experience in the field of recycling, developed an electronic waste drop-off program, attended various events where he educates the public about recycling, and established reusable bag drop-off stations.

  • Rising Star – Jaime Luppino

Jaime Luppino has been the Recycling Coordinator for the Borough of Bergenfield in Bergen County for the past three years and in that time has led the program to new heights.  She not only runs the recycling department, but also heads up the borough’s Clean Communities initiatives. Luppino has created numerous recycling educational programs for residents and school districts, held a fundraiser at a local library where kids were asked to design a reusable bag, speaks at school assemblies, and sets up and staffs recycling information tables at special events.  Luppino’s passion and work ethic have also made her a premier recycling advisor for neighboring recycling coordinators.

  • Outstanding Educator/Educational Program – Marci Meixler

Marci Meixler is an Associate Teaching Professor at Rutgers University and has been teaching about recycling and sustainability since 2011. A key goal of the sustainability course that she teaches is to encourage her students to live more sustainably.  A key component of the course is getting students to implement sustainability initiatives in their own lives during a three-week sustainability challenge project. Meixler always joins in the challenges to demonstrate her commitment. To date, she has personally influenced about 500 students who have, in turn, influenced their families and friends.

  • Recycling Industry – Foam Pack Industries

Foam Pack Industries in Springfield, Union County, has been recycling expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam since 1971. The company recycles 500,000 pounds of EPS foam per year and accepts material from numerous industries, municipalities, and residents. During the past 50 years, Foam Pack Industries’ recycling program has kept more than 20 million pounds of EPS out of landfills. Recycled EPS is used in the production of many products and packaging and is 100 percent recyclable. Foam Pack Industries, which recently ceased operations after many years, has worked closely with municipal and county collection programs and has educated the public about the benefits of recycling EPS.

  • Source Reduction, Resource Management/Sustainability – Rutgers Cooperative Extension

Rutgers Cooperative Extension has been advancing the cause of food waste reduction and sustainable eating in New Jersey for the past several years. Recognizing the potential for schools to educate students about waste reduction, Rutgers Cooperative Extension formed a Food Waste Team with a goal to achieve a 50 percent reduction in food waste in New Jersey by 2030.  The organization helps public schools across the state implement programs to reduce, recover and recycle wasted food.  Rutgers Cooperative Extension has facilitated food waste audits, provided training for food service staff and administrators, and introduced Share Tables, allowing unwanted food to be collected and redistributed within the school or to food pantries. The organization has also developed comprehensive toolkits and curricula for schools.

  • Commissioner’s Award – Marie Kruzan

Kruzan was Executive Director of ANJR for more than 34 years until her recent retirement.  During her tenure, Kruzan was one of the architects of New Jersey’s Recycling Certification Program and was instrumental in ensuring that concerns of the New Jersey recycling community were made known to state legislators. She worked closely with officials from the DEP and coordinated countless meetings, webinars, workshops, and events, including the annual Recycling Symposium.  She also served on numerous recycling committees, including the Recycling Market Development Council.  Kruzan has been a caring mentor to hundreds of municipal recycling coordinators and a well-respected and trusted source of information in the recycling community.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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