From their perch in 11th place as of Sept. 26, Chatham Borough moved into the top-10 in the nationwide Recyclebank competition over the last three weeks.
"We're at No. 8 now, and it's pretty exciting," Chatham Borough Councilman Vicki Fife said.
Chatham Borough was chosen as the one town from New Jersey to compete against one town from all the other 50 states.
The contest is based on participation, not volume or tonnage of recycled materials, so every resident who joins helps the borough get closer to winning.
"What we looked at was, everybody from one to six stayed in the same place," Fife said, which makes the next two months crucial for the borough.
In order to win the competition, which has a grand prize of a $100,000 grant for a green municipal project, Chatham Borough residents must continue to register their households with Recyclebank and track their recycling online.
Recyclebank also offers coupons and discounts on groceries, cleaning products, facial and body project and more, all awarded based on how much and how often participants recycle.
"We really want to utilize the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts as much as possible," Fife said. "We have St. Pat's [St. Patrick Church and School] on board with us now, and we're going to try to reach out to all the local churches."
Fife and fellow Councilman Len Resto have made it their mission to get as many borough residents registered as possible. They appeared at Back to School Nights at Chatham schools to encourage residents to participate.
"It really is an awareness campaign," Fife said.
The competition ends Dec. 31.
How the Borough Got Involved
Patrick Russell, of Waste Management, the borough's vendor for recycling collection, recommended Chatham Borough to Recyclebank for the contest. Russell has previously told the council he was shocked by how much recycling borough residents did.
When Recyclebank asked Russell to recommend a municipality from New Jersey for the contest, Russell said to the council, "I immediately thought of Chatham."
Once the contest ends, the incentives for borough residents to recycle will continue. Through Recyclebank, residents can accumulate points which can be redeemed for products by manufacturers and stores such as Aveeno, Origins, Macy's, Bed, Bath & Beyond or with local vendors.
"But even when we told them that, people didn't care about getting the discounts," Resto said after a day at the Chatham Borough Farmers Market spreading news of the contest. "They cared about getting the points for Chatham."
The Chatham Borough Council voted to participate in Recyclebank's discount offers for a trial period of 24 months, free of charge. After that, Buck said the borough will be under no obligation to remain with Recyclebank.