The state Department of Environmental Protection is handing millions of dollars in Clean Communities grant money to help towns and counties pick up thousands of pounds of litter.

According to DEP spokesman Larry Hajna, $19.1 million is being awarded to municipalities, while the state’s 21 counties will share $2.4 million.

The grant program is funded through a fee on "liter-generating products" such as paper and bottles.

According to the DEP, grant money is allocated according to the number of roadways in each community.
The municipalities receiving the largest grants this year:

  • Newark — $448,791
  • Jersey City — $414,401
  • Toms River — $232,913
  • Paterson — $200,796
  • Hamilton (Mercer) — $197,512

Counties receiving the largest grants:

  • Ocean — $218,091
  • Cumberland — $191,126
  • Burlington — $179,004
  • Bergen — $156,516
  • Gloucester — $146,629

The program helps clean up litter from shorelines and roads.

“Grants can be used to organize a local school group or it could be a weekend activity organized by the town.”

Funds can also be used to create programs that inform the public about anti-litter strategies, improve awareness and for purchasing trash bins and cans.

Hajna said litter has become part of our modern society and “it’s not just an eyesore — it can impact wildlife, impact ecosystems that wildlife depend on.”

“A lot of litter is carelessness," he said. "People just carelessly throwing out something out of the car window or they’re not securing their trash cans.”

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