Clean Communities

Image of kids recycling at public container

Morris County's Clean Communities program is part of a statewide strategy to prevent litter from accumulating on streets, beaches and waterways, in parks, recreation sites and vacant lots, and to clean up litter. There are three goals: education, enforcement, and cleanup. Funding is provided by NJ from a user fee on 15 kinds of litter-related products. This fee is assessed at the manufacturer, wholesale and retail levels. The funds can be used to educate about litter abatement, as well as for litter cleanups.

What is litter?

Litter is garbage or trash that is out of place. It's found on our streets, highways, lakefronts, parks and school grounds. Litter takes many forms such as paper, plastics, metal cans, cigarette butts, food packaging and tires.

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image of Slam Dunk the Junk Logo Slam Dunk the Junk - Keep Morris County Litter Free!
Morris County's Clean Communities program now provides two new grant opportunity for public schools, grades 5-12, in Morris County. 
Click here for more information on the grant and how to apply.

2018 "Keep Morris County Litter Free"
- Grant for Public Schools

The Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority, through the Morris County Clean Communities program, is pleased to announce the results of the 2018 Keep Morris County Litter Free Grant program for public schools. Twenty-three Morris County schools participated in this program and cleaned litter from 212 acres of land this year. One hundred fifty-nine bags of trash, one hundred twenty-one bags of recyclables, and two tires were collected during the litter cleanups, along with 167 lbs. of scrap metal. One thousand three hundred fifty-three participants worked 2,868 hours to achieve these amazing results. Thanks to all participants!

List of participating schools:

  1. Black River Middle School
  2. Brooklawn Middle School
  3. Canfield Avenue School
  4. Chatham High School
  5. Dover High School
  6. East Hanover Middle School
  7. Hanover Park High School
  8. Jefferson Township High School
  9. Robert R. Lazar Middle School
  10. Madison Junior School
  11. Morris Hills High School
  12. Mount Arlington Public School
  13. Mt. Tabor School
  14. North Boulevard School
  15. Parsippany High School
  16. Parsippany Hills High School
  17. Pequannock Township High School
  18. Rockaway Valley School
  19. Sandshore School
  20. Stephen J. Gerace School
  21. Unity Charter School
  22. Whippany Park High School

Morris Hills Environmental Action Club Cleans Wooded Area in Rockaway Township

Pictured below are members of the Morris Hills Environmental Action Club during a cleanup in Rockaway Township. The adopted area is near Mount Hope Spring and was heavily littered. The group cleaned a huge amount of dumped items out of the woods, some too large to put into trash bags! Numerous Saturday cleanups were conducted at this site until the group felt the job was done.

Unfortunately, the littered area was the result of years of illegal dumping. The club members found kitchen cabinets, parts of cars including a car hood, old tires, pallets, a mattress, a sofa and lots of empty metal cans and shattered glass bottles. It took 10 cleanups to finally get all of the debris removed from this beautiful wooded area and appreciate the natural beauty that was once marred by the littered items.

Frank Cappuccio, referring to the Morris Hills Environmental Action Club members said, "I am very proud of the work these young people did!"

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In the picture (left to right): Aneesh Patankar, Abirami Kurinchi-Vendhan, Karen Kong, Nidhi Shah, Vivian Zhang, Frank Cappuccio (teacher and club advisor), Sara Ng (standing), Laura Ng (kneeling)

Mr. Frank Cappuccio is the advisor of the Morris Hills Environmental Action Club, a Science teacher, and the 2016 award recipient of "The Power of Green - Living, Leading, Teaching" award, presented by the Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority during the annual environmental excellence awards celebration on May 20, 2016.

image of Don't Waste Our Open Space Logo NJDEP's “Don’t Waste our Open Space” campaign

In March 2014, The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) announced its “Don’t Waste our Open Space” campaign. The NJDEP's website, cites the problem of public lands all over New Jersey being used as dumping grounds. Litter, garbage bags, tires, televisions, electronic waste, appliances, yard waste, and construction debris is dumped and threatens our local environment, animals and public. This dumping detracts from the natural beauty of our public lands; it decreases property value, and costs the citizens of New Jersey tax dollars to cleanup.

The campaign is being developed to advise the public of the State’s crackdown on illegal dumping and to recruit public help in reporting illegal dumping violations.

image of Ring Leader Recycling Program
Help to save the environment by participating in the free Ring Leader Recycling Program. Participants in the program collect ring carriers and ship them back to Hi-Cone for recycling!

image of Talking Trash BookTracking Trash Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion
The Morris County Clean Communities program proudly provided the book titled Tracking Trash Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion, by author Loree Griffin Burns, to all public middle schools and to all municipal libraries (those that did not already have a copy). The book provides pertinent little abatement information for students in grades 6 though 8. Through the Morris County Clean Communities education program, we hope to change the attitudes and actions of those who litter!

Download the Stop Illegal Dumping Flyer Where does litter come from? There are many sources of litter:

  • pedestrians
  • motorists
  • overflowing household garbage cans
  • overflowing commercial containers
  • loading docks
  • construction sites
  • uncovered trucks
  • Litter is often wind-blown until it is trapped somewhere or goes down a storm drain.

How does litter affect us? - Even small amounts of litter are unsightly, unhealthy and dangerous and may cause the following:

  • fires
  • pollution
  • accidents
  • low morale
  • diseases in people and animals
  • declining tourism and industry

Why do people litter? - People tend to litter...

  • when an area is already littered
  • when they don't feel a sense of ownership or community pride
  • when they think someone else will clean it up

Image of fish in a polluted lake. What can we do to clean up litter? We can get involved as follows:

  • organize a cleanup day through your municipality
  • purchase anti-litter signs for our town
  • sponsor contests in the schools
  • help the elderly or disabled to clean up their yards
  • raise awareness about litter through a public education campaign
  • donate trash receptacles to the town
  • empty trash receptacles on a regular basis
  • conduct a litter survey to find the worst spots
  • publicize our efforts in the local media

Clean can be contagious!
Let's take the time to care for our communities,
to pick up litter and plant flowers, trees and shrubs!

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Download the Recycle Responsibly Flyer


Avoid turning recyclables into litter on a windy day

  • Use a lid to prevent the wind from blowing material out.
  • If your material does not fit into one container, use more than one so that loose material is not sticking out.
  • Flatten corrugated cardboard boxes and stack them into one unflattened box. Do not leave loose boxes on the ground.

Use properly sized containers

  • The weight limit for a single container is 50 pounds when full.
  • It is recommended that containers be no larger than 32 gallons each to avoid exceeding the weight limit.
  • Containers must have handles.
  • Retail stores now sell recycling carts with wheels that are too big. They will exceed the 50 pound weight limit when full. Do NOT use these large 64 and 95 gallon carts.

Only recycle what is acceptable

  • Be careful to follow the recycling guidelines as advertised by your town and on the MCMUA’s website. There are specific guidelines regarding the materials that are and are not acceptable.
  • Your cooperation with these guidelines is greatly appreciated. If you have questions please call your town’s recycling coordinator or the MCMUA at 973-285-8394.

Tag-It and Leave-It Recycling Inspections

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When in Doubt, Throw it Out — That’s the Best Decision for the Environment

Not everything with a recycling symbol goes into your curbside recycling bin for single stream collection.

"Tag-It and Leave-It" Recycling Effort (PDF Description)

The MCMUA, which collects recycling in many of Morris County’s 39 towns, implements a “tag-it and leave-it” inspection program. If your recycling contains contaminants, the entire bin could be left at the curb.

The goal is to ensure that bulk recycling loads sent by the MUA to the recycling market don’t get rejected (and sent to a landfill) because they contain too many items that don’t meet recycling standards.

The most problematic recycling contaminants found by the Morris County MUA include:

  • Plastic bags (Take them to a retail store with a dedicated bin for bags. They jam machinery.)
  • Plastic film/plastic packaging
  • Foam/Styrofoam (Large amounts of clean block Styrofoam that hasn’t contacted food can be recycled at Foam Pack Industries in Springfield.)
  • Hangers (Plastic, metal or wood — they jam up the machinery.)
  • Food waste
  • Wood scraps
  • Plastic bottles/containers coded #3, #4, #6 & #7 (Recycle only plastic bottles/containers coded #1, #2 & #5. No medicine bottles at all).

Just for clarification, these items don’t belong in your recycling container either: Paper coffee cups, dirty pizza boxes, paper towels, and some less likely items such as diapers, bowling balls, hypodermic needles, animal carcasses, batteries and electronics. Batteries can cause a fire at a recycling center. People sort recycling – not machines, so keep them safe.

Also, recyclables must be empty, clean and dry — without food residue.

Download the MCMUA’s recycling flyer here and post it in your kitchen.

The MCMUA’s revised plastics acceptability guidelines now limits plastic recycling collection to only bottles/containers coded #1, #2 & #5.

The goal is to avoid rejected loads at the local recycling facility which first separates the single-stream recyclables into the individual materials that make up the recycling stream. Cleaner loads result in less cost while rejected loads due to contamination result in a greater cost for all involved. The rule change is due to strict requirements for purity by companies who buy the bundled materials.

For curbside collection, recyclables must be loose in a reusable container with handles and a lid.