Garbage along Delaware River – NJ group examines mess
Several places along the New Jersey coastline of the Delaware River are filled with trash left behind by unwary visitors or dumped into the waterway, environmentalists say.
However, only a few of these hot spots are truly accessible and safe for people wanting to clean up the mess.
Such cleanings have been taking place since 2016, thanks to Clean Ocean Action and teams of citizen science volunteers. And at just four locations, out of 20 that are considered problem areas for litter along the Delaware, have volunteers collected tens of thousands of debris, the COA noted during a webinar on Tuesday.
“Almost 90% of the debris we find there is plastic,” said Alison Jones, watershed program coordinator for the Long Branch-based group.
Group staff used part of the program to remind the public of key laws coming into effect next year that are expected to reduce the amount of plastic in circulation, and to note other potential laws that could limit plastic pollution even further. .
Compared to the group’s decades-long beach sweeps, cleanings at Delaware River sites saw a higher share of plastic (90% vs. 83%), especially foam plastic, Jones noted.
The group’s cleanup efforts focused on four points along Delaware’s New Jersey coastline: Lamberton Road in Trenton; the Taylor wildlife reserve in Cinnaminson; Orange Palmyra Cove Natural Park; and two locations in West Deptford which are within a mile of each other.
Along the Delaware, plastic drink bottles were the most frequently collected item from 2016 to 2019. Volunteers collected 17,888 of them during 25 cleanups. # 2 was pieces of foam. Together, the first 2 of the “dirty dozen” represented 43% of the debris collected. During beach sweeps in 2019, these two elements only represented 8% of the debris.
Clean Ocean Action and other groups are hoping for a “recycled content bill” to be passed before it dies in the legislature that would set post-consumer recycled content requirements for certain products and would ban the sale of packing peanuts and similar packing products.
Beginning in May 2022, stores and retailers in New Jersey will be banned from providing consumers with single-use plastic carrier bags. Single-use paper bags will be prohibited in grocery stores of at least 2,500 square feet. A rule is already in place that prohibits restaurants from voluntarily providing plastic straws to consumers.
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at [email protected]