One-Man Recycling Machine Helps Turn NJ Green

He's a dedicated "freecycler."

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    NEWSLETTERS

    New Jersey reporter Brian Thompson introduces us to a man who turns junk into treasure. (Published Thursday, Nov 17, 2011)

    Steve Royka is a one-man recycling machine living in a 200-year-old house, driving a 24-year-old Chevy pickup.

    And he makes no apologies.

    "I hate to see stuff go to waste," said Royka about his penchant for recycling, and as it is called nowadays, "freecycling."

    Rarely does Royka sell the bikes, plumbing fixtures, chandeliers, outdoor figurines and yes, kitchen sinks (among hundreds of other articles) that he collects in his fenced-off backyard.

    He simply gives items away, in a movement that has come to be called "freecycling" to those dedicated to it.

    And Royka is dedicated.

    A few years ago, he was named Volunteer of the Year by the Hackensack Riverkeeper.

    The Riverkeeper, Capt. Bill Sheehan, said Royka could probably win the award every year.

    Among his efforts are donations of recycled file cabinets, a used refrigerator and even duck decoys to help decorate the office.

    With his "Sanford & Son" truck (in addition to that Chevy pickup), Royka even delivers.

    But Royka, a full time employee of the Little Ferry, N.J. Department of Public Works, usually just gives stuff away.

    Unlike TV character Fred Sanford, Royka said he doesn't buy and sell.

    When we visited him, he offered up a set of hubcaps, old light lenses from long-discarded traffic lights, and greeting cards (boxes of them) with the Statue of Liberty and the World Trade Center twin towers on them.

    Capt. Sheehan of the Riverkeeper described Royka as the son of a muskrat trapper who grew up on the land, and the Hackensack River.

    "It was ingrained in him as a young boy -- that the natural resources are valuable," Sheehan said.

    Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY