Environmental Commission: Use Grant Money For Reusable Bags

The Environmental Commission suggests the Township Council use part of a grant to buy reusable bags for free distribution to residents.

The township is receiving a more than $130,000 grant, and the Environmental Commission members know how they’d like the Township Council to spend some of it.

The state Clean Communities Council awarded Franklin a $131,996.61 Clean Communities Grant, money intended to be used to promote anti-litter efforts.

It turns out the money can also be used to purchase reusable bags, which is exactly how the Environmental Commission wants the township to use some of it. The idea was broached by Commissioner Arnold Schmidt at the body’s June 7 meeting.

In a letter directed to Mayor Phil Kramer and Township Manager Robert Vornlocker, the Commission wrote that “we suggest that a portion of this funding be used to purchase reusable bags that can be distributed to Franklin residents at upcoming events such as the 4th of July and Franklin Day.”

“We believe this would be an appropriate way to advertise the implementation of the pending plastic bags ban legislation, while at the same time providing residents with an actual usable, useful handout,” the Commission wrote.

The letter suggested that the bags could be used to advertise the township’s “determination to reduce plastic pollution. There could also be a flyer placed in each bag with additional information about the regulation.”

The 35-year-old Clean Communities Program “is a statewide, comprehensive, litter-abatement program,” according to the program’s web site. “The Act provides a funding source for the program by placing a tax on fifteen categories of businesses that may produce litter-generating products.”

Part of the 2020 legislation “banning or limiting the use of single-use plastic carryout bags, polystyrene foam food service products, and single-use plastic straws” includes designating the Clean Communities Program as the “lead agency to ‘develop and implement a statewide public information and education program which shall include educational programs, public service announcements, and the distribution of free reusable carryout bags throughout the State,’ ” according to the web site.

The program allocated $84,475.63 to Somerset County itself, and $737,465 to Somerset County towns. Town grants are calculated based on the number of homes in a town, and the miles of town-owner roads.

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