NA sees increase in annual state Green grant

North Arlington has been awarded a $31,177 Clean Communities grant from the state Department of Environmental Protection’s (NJDEP) Solid Waste Division, representing a jump over last year, when the borough received $27,796.

Clean Communities grants help municipalities and counties across New Jersey promote volunteer and paid clean-up events, purchase equipment, support enforcement activities and educational opportunities. The program is overseen statewide by the New Jersey Clean Communities Council (NJCCC).

“The Borough Council and I continue to identify new initiatives to push North Arlington toward a cleaner, more-sustainable future,” Mayor Daniel H. Pronti said. “Our Department of Public Works coordinates key programs throughout the year to keep our town litter-free. It is through programs like Clean Communities that we are able to keep our streets, open space, recreation areas and borough grounds clear of litter and debris.”

Pronti noted there has been a concentrated effort to ensure the main business corridors in town, as well as the gateway areas for people driving in and out of the borough, are litter-free. North Arlington uses its Clean Communities funding to ensure there are ample litter receptacles, including bins for recycling.

This year’s total state funding represents a nearly $2.7 million increase from last year. In total, the NJDEP is awarding $21.4 million to eligible municipalities and $2.7 million to counties across the state to conduct cleanups, educate the public and enforce litter-related laws and ordinances. Allocations on based on statistical reports that outline the number of housing units and municipally owned roadway mileage in a respective area.

Grants are funded by a legislated user-fee on manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors that produce litter-generating products.

“Local litter abatement programs are more important than ever as we strive to prevent roadway litter from getting into our waterways,” NJCCC Chairwoman Joann Gemenden said. “Clean Communities grants provide local governments, such as North Arlington, with critical funds to help create a Litter Free NJ.”

The NJCCC operates public awareness campaigns to educate the public, primarily youth, about the adverse environmental impacts of litter, especially on waterways.

The organization also helped facilitate the transition away from single-use plastic and paper bags with its Litter Free NJ campaign, using public service announcements and other outreach to remind residents to bring their own reusable bags when shopping, and to recycle plastic bags. These efforts have helped to significantly reduce the amount of plastic pollution in the state by an estimated 8 billion single-use bags per year.

Litter comes from many sources, such as people who carelessly toss away their trash, overflowing and uncovered garbage cans and construction sites. Litter is often dispersed by the wind and carried into stormwater collection systems, where it may clog drains causing flooding, harm wildlife and degrade the quality of the state’s surface waters.

The Clean Communities grant program funds a variety of activities including volunteer cleanups of public spaces, cleanups of stormwater systems that can disperse trash into waterways, educational outreach campaigns, enforcement of local anti-littering ordinances, graffiti removal and purchases of trash receptacles, recycling bins and anti-litter signs.

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