Sunday, October 12, 2008

Shopping Center Struggles With Recycling

I recently inquired about how recycling is going at the Princeton Shopping Center. The Center contributes greatly to quality of life in Princeton, providing a convenient place to shop, whose proximity to residential neighborhoods becomes ever more important as we try to limit our individual carbon footprints.

Businesses are required by law to recycle cardboard, which is becoming an increasingly valuable commodity. It's the township's responsibility to enforce this law and, if necessary, hand out fines for violations. However, during frequent shopping visits, I've noticed that cardboard is routinely getting thrown in trash dumpsters.

Turns out that the shopping center provides a cavernous dumpster for cardboard, but it's located at the far northern end of the parking lot, which means that any worker given the task of dealing with boxes has the choice of walking a quarter mile to the recycling dumpster, or throwing it in the trash dumpster just a few steps from the back door. It's not surprising, then, that recyclables are ending up in the trash.

Many businesses there no doubt recycle as they are supposed to, despite the inconvenient setup. McCaffery's compacts and recycles its own cardboard, and is also looking into partnering with a Pennsylvania company to have their food waste trucked away and composted. According to Jim McCaffery, the plastic bags customers return to the store are picked up by the Good Will and turned into things like benches.

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