TRENTON, NJ — The N.J. Department of Environmental Protection is enhancing statewide efforts to remove litter, beautify neighborhoods and improve water quality across New Jersey by distributing $21.4 million in Clean Communities grants this year, an approximate $700,000 increase from 2021’s disbursement, NJDEP Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette announced May 26.
In total, NJDEP is awarding nearly $19.1 million to eligible municipalities and $2.3 million to the state’s 21 counties. The 2021 grants distribution totaled $20.7 million. Clean Communities grants are funded by a legislated user-fee on manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors that produce litter-generating products.
“The DEP is thrilled that we are able to distribute additional grant funds this year to help communities improve their local environments and improve quality of life by removing litter, including from roadways and around stormwater collection systems,” LaTourette said. “These community-level efforts have far-reaching impacts across the state, from beautifying neighborhoods to improving water quality and enhancing wildlife habitats.”
The nonprofit New Jersey Clean Communities Council oversees the reporting requirements for the program. Disbursements are based on housing units and miles of municipally owned roadways.
“Municipalities and counties are strongly encouraged to use these grants to organize volunteer cleanups, pay employees to pick up litter, purchase badly needed cleanup equipment, and promote education activities and enforcement,” said JoAnn Gemenden, executive director of the New Jersey Clean Communities Council. “We are grateful for funding that helps keep New Jersey litter-free. We are proud to serve as an educational resource for communities, as we drive many of our campaigns to engage the younger generations to help mold positive, long-term anti-litter behaviors.”
Essex County was awarded $75,522.66. County municipalities were awarded funds as follows: Belleville, $61,470.44; Bloomfield, $87,732.89; Caldwell, $15,267.62; Cedar Grove, $24,485.82; East Orange, $113,991.47; Essex Fells, $6,350.93; Fairfield, $19,106.56; Glen Ridge, $12,720.81; Irvington, $92,958.51; Livingston, $60,671.54; Maplewood, $42,914.77; Millburn, $42,951.84; Montclair, $73,165.47; Newark, $453,723.62; North Caldwell, $14,728.22; Nutley, $53,204.68; Orange, $52,465.79; Roseland, $11,748.53; South Orange, $30,701.48; Verona, $27,445.90; West Caldwell, $22,295.07; and West Orange, $81,567.89.
Litter comes from 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 fence, or in a ditch or gully. People tend to litter when an area is already littered, and when they lack a sense of ownership or community pride.
Activities funded by Clean Communities grants include volunteer litter cleanups, litter-related education, and cleanups of stormwater 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; purchases of litter collection equipment such as receptacles, recycling bins, anti-litter signs and graffiti removal supplies; and reusable bags to promote New Jersey’s single-use plastics law.