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A 20 Year Commitment
to Clean communities

Sandy Huber
By Sandy Huber
Executive Director, New Jersey
Clean Communities Council

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Students from the Red Bank Charter School accept an Appreciation Award at Kids for Clean Communities Day, May 24.

It was New Jersey’s 20 year commitment to reducing litter, along with a formidable agenda, top-notch speakers, stunning awards, and a splendid location that lured over 500 children and adults to the Renault Resort, May 24-26, 2006 for the annual Clean Communities Seminar & Awards Banquet. On this very special occasion, Council Trustees celebrated the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Clean Communities Act, honoring the legislators, lobbyists, public officials and coordinators who developed New Jersey’s only comprehensive, statewide litter abatement program.

Reducing litter in New Jersey has always been a challenge due to the state’s population density, especially in cities. During the 80s, New Jerseyans were looking for ways to cope with the litter problem. Many people thought that container deposit legislation would be the answer. However, businesses that would be strapped with the expense and complexity of handling bottles and cans that were returned came up with a more effective, less expensive plan. They asked the legislature to pass a law that would create a fund that could be used to develop municipal and county litter abatement programs.

These litter abatement programs would reduce all forms of man-made litter, not just bottles and cans. In 1986, the legislature passed the Clean Communities Act, which levied a tax on manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers of 15 categories of litter generating products. The New Jersey Food Council, an alliance of food retailers and their suppliers, led the way with its member organizations paying 50 percent of the tax.


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New Jersey Food Council presidents Barbara McConnell, Linda Doherty and James Morford accept the Business Partnership Award on behalf of the New Jersey Food Council.

Business Partnership Award
As part of its 20th anniversary celebration, the Clean Communities Council honored the Food Council at the awards banquet on May 25 with its prestigious Business Partnership Award. The award was accepted by Linda Doherty, Food Council President, along with past presidents James Morford and Barbara McConnell. All three Food Council presidents serve today on the board of the Clean Communities Council.

Urban Clean Team Awards
Council Trustees also honored municipalities that are members of the State Urban Cleanup Team. The team of municipalities located in urban areas was organized by the Clean Communities Council in 2003 following the passage of the Act in 2002. Team members honored were Atlantic City, Bayonne, Camden, East Orange, Elizabeth, Irvington, Jersey City, New Brunswick, Newark, Trenton and Paterson.

Stewardship of Public Lands Award
In connection with the presentation of Urban Cleanup Team awards, Council Trustees honored Comcast for a cleanup in Irvington on Comcast Cares Day, October 5, 2005, when 200 employee-volunteers and residents cleaned Irvington’s 16th Street corridor. Comcast area vice-president for Northern New Jersey, Thomas Sharrard, accepted the award.

Clean Communities Program Awards
Clean Communities Program Awards were presented to the municipalities of Vineland (Cumberland County) and Monroe (Gloucester County).

For more than a decade, Vineland has conducted a well-rounded Clean Communities program. The town’s involvement included several innovative programs that encourage volunteers to adopt public spaces and keep them clean; an annual Clean Communities awards ceremony; and an education program that reaches over 1,000 students every year.

As part of its broad-based Clean Communities program, Monroe Township carried out mini grant programs. In addition, the township sponsored 22 cleanups, during which 800 volunteers cleaned 55 road miles and removed 27,000 pounds of litter in 2005 alone. The township’s education program reaches 5,600 students.

A Clean Communities Program Award was also presented to Cumberland County for a comprehensive litter abatement program, sustained for over 14 years. The Cumberland County Improvement Authority manages the program, organizing several volunteer cleanups every year that have removed 3 million tons of trash and 13,000 tires from the county’s woodlands and waterways; promotes a countywide storm drain stenciling program; sponsors a countywide Enviro Fair; and funds educational presentations for about 300 students.

Cleanup Award
Howell Township was recognized with a Cleanup Award for the implementation of community cleanups that attract 200 volunteers and are supported by the mayor and the city council. The township also has established five adopt-a-road programs with boy and girl scout troops.

Education Award
Fair Lawn Borough received an Education Award for outreach programs that target schools, civic groups and the general public through print, newspaper, public access television and internet channels.

Enforcement Award
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection was honored with an Enforcement Award for accelerating the enforcement of litter and recycling laws during the past year.

Coordinator Awards
The Clean Communities Council honored three Clean Communities Coordinators who exemplify the ideals of New Jersey Clean Communities:

  • Carole Tolmachewich, who has nurtured municipal coordinators in Middlesex County for nearly 20 years by consistently disseminating information, holding regular municipal meetings and rewarding good programs at an annual luncheon;
  • Barbara Fiedler, who is known throughout the state for innovative and proactive programming in the Township of Galloway; and
  • Diane Polifronio who, as a public works employee with may other duties, has transformed the City of Paterson’s litter abatement program into a major asset of the community.


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Comcast Vice-President Tom Sharrard (center) accepts Stewardship of Public Lands Award, presented by Clean Communities Council President Patrick Ryan  (left) and Irvington Township Mayor Wayne Smith

Excellence in Education Awards
As part of the 20th anniversary celebration, several coordinators were honored with Excellence in Education Awards: Anna Panayiotou (Bayonne); Alfred DuBois, (Clifton) Knadya O’Kelly (East Orange); Charlotte Galla (Irvington) and Alice Temple (South Plainfield).

Partner and Volunteer Awards
The Clean Communities Council also recognized partners and volunteers for supporting New Jersey Clean Communities: Adopt-a-Spot Award—Blue Heron Pines Neighbors (Egg Harbor City); Clean Water Award—Passaic Valley Sewerage Commissioners (Northern New Jersey) ; Volunteer Award—The Conley Family (Galloway); and Briarcliff School, Excellence in Education Award (Mountain Lakes).


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Clean Communities President Patrick Ryan and Executive Director Sandy Huber present Robert Pellet Leadership Award to Barbara McConnell (center).


Robert Pellet Leadership Award
Just before the curtain closed on the 20th anniversary celebration of New Jersey Clean Communities, the Council President Patrick Ryan presented the Clean Communities Council’s most prestigious award—the Robert Pellet Leadership Award—to the grand dame of New Jersey’s march on litter, former Food Council President Barbara McConnell. But Ms. McConnell received the award “not for what she did for the program 20 years ago—but for what she continues to do for the program today,” said Ryan.

The spring conference also features a seminar and awards program for kids on the first day of the event. Last year, nearly 300 children and adults participated in an awards ceremony on May 24; 20 youth groups accepted awards for educational projects aimed at promoting the proper handling of solid waste and reducing litter.

The Clean Communities Council is proud to announce that the fourth annual Clean Communities Seminar & Awards Banquet will be held May 23-25, 2007, at the Liberty House, on the Hudson in Liberty State Park, Jersey City. Information about the spring conference may be accessed at or by calling the Clean Communities Council at 609-989-5900


Article published in New Jersey Municipalities Magazine, March 2007


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g"> or by calling the Clean Communities Council at 609-989-5900


Article published in New Jersey Municipalities Magazine, March 2007


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