Getting Wildwood residents to place recyclable materials in separate containers was the hard part.

"It's a lot easier now," said city General Supervisor of Public Works Robert And-erson of the city's switch to single-stream recycling. "It's easier for the taxpayer. You throw everything in one container."

Wildwood, like Cape May County's 15 other municipalities, has made the switch to single-stream recycling, meaning paper, plastics, metals and other recyclable goods are commingled or collected in a single container.

Anderson, a Wildwood resident, remembers 1987, the year he said recyclables had to be separated.

Now, residents can throw them together, a move expected to increase the amount recycled and to decrease each individual municipality's trash collection costs.

"It's good for all of us and for the county," Anderson said.

John Baron, deputy director of the Cape May County MUA, said the switch took effect April 1, but the effect of the change to single-stream won't be known until May - after one month has been completed.

Cape May County collected 24,000 tons of recyclables in 2012, and the number is expected to increase with single-stream recycling.

Each ton recycled is one that does not go in the landfill, at a cost of $67.25 per ton, which means recycling saved $1.6 million in tipping fees before single-stream recycling.

For residents and businesses, it means fewer containers and an added ease to recycling, while the municipality benefits with reduced costs.

Baron said Ocean City, for instance, saw the cost of garbage collection drop 37 percent.

North Wildwood Mayor Bill Henfey said his community paid $484,000 for trash pick-up to Waste Management, which included storm Dumpsters, in 2012, but he anticipates that figure to drop substantially.

Joe Bond, Wildwood Crest's Public Works Department superintendent, said his community, which operates its own trash trucks, also will use fewer vehicles - saving manpower hours and equipment needs.

While he hasn't figured out the dollar amount of any savings, he said it means public works employees can be put to work on other tasks.

Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano Jr. said he found himself wanting to separate his recyclables after doing so for so long, but he expects he and the city's residents and business owners will soon adjust.

"This could improve recycling by 20 percent. I think it's a good thing," he said.

The change will become more noticeable in the summer, as many of the island's businesses and tourists return.

Rick Dovey, president of the Atlantic County Utilities Auth-ority, or ACUA, said the county made the switch to single-stream in 2008 and the savings largely come in the form of reduced collection costs.

"We consider it a success in terms of an increase in residential recycling and participation. Anecdotally, lots of people say they love it," he said.

But he said there are still many in the county unaware of the program.

"It's a continuing education process," he said.