NJ Needs to Fix Recycling Programs – Grants Not Enough

NJ Needs to Fix Recycling Programs – Grants Not Enough

 

The DEP has awarded $21.5 million in annual Clean Communities grants to help municipalities and counties with litter cleanup activities and programs. That’s a funding increase of $2.2 million over last year. Eligible municipalities will receive $19.1 million while another $2.4 million will go to the state’s 21 counties. (See DEP release below)

“We’re seeing a major drop in recycling in New Jersey. Clean Communities grants help with education and cleanup, but recycling rates continue to decline dramatically. In the early 1990s we recycled over 50% of municipal and household waste and now we are down to 37%. China’s decision to no longer import plastic waste has caused the recycling market to collapse. Some towns are no longer taking plastics. Recycling facilities are closing, or opening once or twice a month. Towns moving to single-stream create a dirtier product that also undercuts the market. We need programs here to deal with those problems and reduce waste. We need to ban single-use plastics, and pass a bottle bill.  We need to overhaul our recycling and solid waste programs that are 30 years out of date,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.  “We’re glad to see money going toward education and recycling, but it’s not enough. The Murphy Administration must do much more to rebuild our recycling program and find new markets for our trash.”

As recycling rates drop, the Murphy administration and the legislature can take several steps to reverse the trend and reduce waste. Bill S2776 (Smith) calls for a comprehensive ban on single use plastics like plastic bags, plastic straws, and polystyrene. The measure has stalled in the legislature. Passing a bottle bill would also be an important step to reducing garbage.

“Every year we seem to be recycling less. We need to focus more on the 3 Rs of recycling – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. To reduce our plastic use, we need our legislature and our Governor to support S2776 (Smith). The bill bans single- use plastics which include plastic bags, plastic straws, and polystyrene. They also need to support A2281 (Huttle) to create a bottle bill. New Jersey only recycles 50% of cans and bottles while Michigan, which has a bottle bill, recycles 97%. We need to also put together other programs that reduce the amount of plastic waste and other garbage we create,” said Tittel. “We need to change the way we do recycling.”

Activities funded by Clean Communities grants include 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; and purchases of litter collection equipment such as receptacles, recycling bins, anti-litter signs and graffiti removal supplies.

“As recycling declines, trash piles up. Plastic bags are clogging storm drains and filling up detention basins, damaging our water quality. Every year we pick up millions of pounds of cans, bottles and other trash along our roadways. We must update and strengthen our recycling to reduce all of that garbage. That is why It is critical that our state legislature quickly move forward with legislation that will reduce our plastic waste and solids. The less we recycle the more greenhouse gases and pollution we have from emissions from landfills and emissions from manufacturing new products each time.,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “The Murphy Administration must overhaul our recycling program quickly or else they will turn New Jersey from the Garden State to the garbage state.”

 

 

IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                     Contact: Lawrence Hajna       (609) 984-1795

May 23, 2019                                                                           Caryn Shinske          (609) 292-2994

 

DEP AWARDS $21.5 MILLION IN CLEAN COMMUNITIES GRANTS

TO COUNTIES AND MUNICIPALITIES

 

(19/P41) TRENTON – The Department of Environmental Protection is awarding $21.5 million in annual Clean Communities grants to help municipalities and counties conduct litter cleanups that improve the quality of life in New Jersey’s communities, Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe announced today.

 

The DEP is awarding $19.1 million to eligible municipalities and $2.4 million to the state’s 21 counties. This is a $2.2 million increase from last year, as the result of an increase in revenues. The program is funded by a legislated user-fee on manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors that produce litter-generating products.

 

“In addition to being unsightly, litter can have detrimental impacts on water quality, wildlife and natural habitats,” Commissioner McCabe said. “Clean Communities grants provide a vital source of funding for New Jersey’s municipalities and counties. They fund cleanups, many along roadsides and around stormwater collection systems, that will protect water quality and natural resources, improving the quality of life in our communities.”

 

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 pay for volunteer and paid cleanups, badly-needed equipment purchases, enforcement activities and education,” said Sandy Huber, Executive Director of New Jersey Clean Communities Council. “We are grateful for funding that helps keep New Jersey clean. 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 behaviors toward discarding litter.”

 

An example of the strength of the Clean Communities program is Morris County, where education and outreach programs reach thousands of people at schools, libraries, fairs and festivals.

 

Cleanup efforts targeted 127 miles of county roads and some 1,350 students and staff removed litter from more than 100 acres of public-school properties last year. In addition, the county’s Mosquito Control Division removed 1,039 tires this year.

 

Municipalities receiving the largest grants this year are: Newark, Essex County, $448,791; Jersey City, Hudson County, $414,401; Toms River, Ocean County, $232,913; Paterson, Passaic County, $200,796; Hamilton, Mercer County, $197,512; Elizabeth, Union County, $184,838; Edison, Middlesex County, $185,575; Woodbridge, Middlesex County, $182,134; Brick, Ocean County, $176,879; Middletown, Monmouth County, $160,009; Cherry Hill, Camden County, $157,342; Trenton, Mercer County, $147,974; Vineland, Cumberland County, $139,021; Clifton, Passaic County, $143,829; Franklin, Somerset County, $136,273;  Berkeley, Ocean County, $136,028; and Camden, Camden County, $131,661.

 

Also, Gloucester Township, Camden County, $129,384; Lakewood, Ocean County, $124,763; Old Bridge, Middlesex County, $124,553; Howell, Monmouth County, $122,124; Jackson, Ocean County, $119,496; Parsippany-Troy Hills, Morris County, $115,736; East Orange, Essex County, $114,950; Manchester, Ocean County, $114,851; Wayne, Passaic County, $111,906; Bayonne, Hudson County, $110,204; Egg Harbor Township, Atlantic County, $108,253; Bridgewater, Somerset County, $103,948; Piscataway, Middlesex County, $103,640; East Brunswick, Middlesex County, $102,200; and Evesham, Burlington County, $101,826.

 

Counties receiving the largest grants are: Ocean, $218,091; Cumberland, $191,126; Burlington, $179,004; Bergen, $156,516; Gloucester, $146,629; Camden, $140,475; Monmouth, $134,389; Atlantic, $131,911; Salem, $127,248; Middlesex, $111,336; Sussex, $111,068; and Morris, $101,199.

 

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 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 pride in their community.

 

Activities funded by Clean Communities grants include 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; and purchases of litter collection equipment such as receptacles, recycling bins, anti-litter signs and graffiti removal supplies.

 

For a complete list of municipal and county grant awards, visit www.njclean.org

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