Ocean County Government
Board of CommissionersDropdown arrow

Department of Solid Waste Management

[06/13/24] Ocean County Clean Communities Program Continues to Protect the Environment

IN AN EFFORT to continue to promote a litter-free Ocean County, the Board of Commissioners will use its 2024 New Jersey Clean Communities Grant to further implement litter abatement programs and outreach.

Ocean County was recently awarded a Clean Communities Grant totaling $275,876.18 - the largest amount given to a county in the state.

"The grant allows the Ocean County Department of Solid Waste Management to work throughout the county assisting in efforts to keep it clean and safe for residents and visitors to enjoy," said Director of Ocean County Board of Commissioners Barbara Jo Crea, who also serves as liaison to the Department of Solid Waste Management. "Allocating this funding is an important task and Solid Waste Management does a great job each year."

The Clean Communities Program was created nearly 40 years ago in 1986. Funding for the program was made possible through taxes on the sale of litter-generating products such as food and beverage containers, cleaning agents, paper products, alcohol, and tobacco products.

The Ocean County Clean Communities Program is part of a larger statewide effort to rid litter from places like streets, waterways, beaches, and parks. The three main focuses of the New Jersey Clean Communities Program are cleanup, education, and enforcement; Ocean County's allocation of the grant demonstrates these goals.

"By keeping litter out of the Barnegat Bay and its tributaries we are protecting our environment now and into the future," Crea said. "It is the goal of this Board to always preserve and protect our waterways."

Anthony M. Agliata, Director of the Ocean County Department of Planning, said this year's grant, which reflects an 11 percent increase from last year's, helps with waste reduction and litter abatement programs such as litter pickup and removal, litter-related education, and enforcement of litter-related ordinances.

In 2023, the Ocean County Department of Solid Waste Management used the grant to support over 25 volunteer cleanups and performed over 80 outreach programs at schools, environmental clubs, senior communities, and public events.

To maximize the use of this grant, the Department of Solid Waste Management also works with other County departments, including the Department of Corrections.

"Each month, inmates serve around 1,000 community service hours cleaning up public properties," said Ocean County Commissioner John P. Kelly, who serves as liaison to the Department of Corrections. "We partner with non-profit organizations and local townships to see where clean-ups are most needed and serve those areas."

The inmate program performs more than 45 clean-ups each month at places like County Parks and County Natural Land sites. They collected 2,565 bags of litter last year.

In addition to the County-wide grant, individual municipalities in the County received a cumulative $1,877,277 from the state for clean-up efforts.

"The County along with local municipalities partner together to maintain the cleanliness of our communities," Crea said. "With this funding we can continue the community cleanups, public education, and the furthering of litter enforcement initiatives."

She noted the Department of Solid Waste Management hosts a number of innovative events to help promote the importance of keeping our streets, sidewalks, property and waterways clean.

Earlier this year, Tanara Hall, the Ocean County Clean Communities Coordinator, was recognized with the New Jersey Clean Communities Innovative Program Award for her visionary Art Sustainability Project, which transforms recycling igloos into captivating installations promoting litter prevention and recycling. By strategically placing these installations across Ocean County's parks, beaches, and marinas, the project intent is to tie waste reduction outreach to encouraging residents, boaters, and shore visitors to recycle and keep our beaches clean.

"Whether it's our recycling staff or our corrections department staff, we have many creative individuals that bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm in making our programs the best they can be," Crea said. "We appreciate these ongoing efforts."