Howell and Jackson receive grants to clean up litter

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The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is awarding $19.4 million in annual Clean Communities grants to assist municipalities and counties with litter cleanup activities and programs that beautify communities and enhance quality of life, DEP Acting Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe announced.

The DEP is awarding more than $17.2 million to eligible municipalities and nearly $2.2 million to the state’s 21 counties. Howell will receive $109,473 and Jackson will receive $106,770, according to a press release.

“Litter is not only unsightly, it poses a significant threat to our environment because much of it, including plastics that do not degrade readily, is carried by storm water runoff into our ecologically sensitive waterways and wetlands,” McCabe said. “Appropriately, some of the areas receiving the largest grants are our cities, where it is particularly important that we focus litter removal efforts.”

The nonprofit New Jersey Clean Communities oversees reporting requirements for the program. Grants are funded by a legislated user-fee on manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors that produce litter-generating products. Disbursements to municipalities are based on the number of housing units and miles of municipally owned roads in each municipality, according to the press release.

“This funding is critical to our efforts to keep New Jersey clean,” said Sandy Huber, executive director of New Jersey Clean Communities. “Municipalities and counties will use Clean Communities grant funding to pay for programs such as volunteer and paid cleanups, equipment purchases, enforcement activities and public education.”

Litter comes from a variety of sources, such as pedestrians, motorists, overflowing household garbage, construction sites and uncovered trucks. Litter is often blown by the wind until it is trapped somewhere, such as along a building or fence, or in a ditch, gully or culvert. People tend to litter when an area is already littered, and when they lack a sense of ownership or pride in their community, according to the press release from the DEP.

Activities funded by Clean Communities grants include cleanups of storm water systems that can disperse trash into streams, rivers and bays; volunteer cleanups of public properties; adoption and enforcement of local anti-littering ordinances; beach cleanups; public information and education programs; and purchases of litter collection equipment such as receptacles, recycling bins, anti-litter signs and graffiti removal supplies.