Enforcement is one of the three components of the Clean Communities Program that every municipality and county should include in their plans. The purpose of an enforcement program is to reduce litter being generated by businesses and people. Efforts can be directed at stationary sources of litter such as construction sites, loading and unloading areas, as well as littering that occurs from people walking or riding in vehicles.
Adopting a comprehensive ordinance that can be enforced should be your first step in your enforcement plan.
- Here is a model ordinance and ordinances from the Borough of Fair Lawn and Bergen County as examples:
- Borough of Fair Lawn Ordinance (5 pages, 1982)
- Bergen County Litter Ordinance (8 pages, 1999)
- Titled “An Ordinance to Provide for a Litter Free Environment”
- Also, for reference, here is the New Jersey State Litter Statute (1 page)
Working Cooperatively with other Agencies on Enforcement Issues
Enforcing against litter violations and illegal dumping is a difficult task because it is time consuming and not a high priority for most local law enforcement agencies. Reaching out to your local/county/state enforcement personnel is a good first step to let them know that enforcement is a key element to eliminating littering.
One suggestion for local coordinators is to develop an environmental crimes task force listing the Prosecutor’s office or the Sheriff’s office as the lead agency in your community. The Task Force should list the following agencies as participants: Prosecutor’s office, Sheriff’s office, State Police and all local Police Departments. Code officials from local municipalities, all health departments and authorities who currently have or would retain enforcement personnel on staff should also be included.
Another suggestion would be to send a letter introducing yourself and the Clean Communities Program to your local enforcement agencies. This will serve to let them know who you are and what your job function is.
Training all personnel involved in investigating these violations is also critical since it is many times difficult to discover the party responsible for the dumping/littering. The New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice can be used to conduct in-service training courses for all law enforcement in your community. This training may also be a way to bring all law enforcement parties together to discuss how best to handle these issues and which department/agency will take the lead in these matters.
- Here is a sample letter that the Somerset County Health Department sent to its enforcement partners
For information about ordinances that ban certain materials and/or activities such as balloons/balloon releases, smoking, bags and straws, visit the Specific Litter Item page in the Resources section.