Contact Us


All News Releases By Date


Federal and City Officials Pitch In to Fight Litter

Release Date: 07/18/2005
Contact Information:
(#05084) New York – "When it rains, you don't go to the beach, your litter does." That's the message city and federal officials would like to impart this summer beach season. To drive that message home, EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin Grumbles, Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Emily Lloyd, City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, and the Brooklyn Cyclones gathered before a Cyclones game today and joined forces to demonstrate how litter can travel to the beach.

When it rains, litter washes down storm drains and can end up going out into local waterways and then wash back up on beaches. "Every New Yorker can help keep the city's streets, waters and beaches cleaner by preventing litter from taking the street-to-beach route," said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin Grumbles. "One solution to beach pollution is clear: pitch litter into baskets, not on city streets."

Each year, tons of litter end up in our streets and parks and on our beaches. More than a decade ago, EPA and New York City started a "Clean Streets=Clean Beaches" campaign to call attention to the link between litter on the streets that washes down storm drains and litter that washes up onto area beaches. Using a combination of tools, including classroom materials for teachers and students, posters on subways and sanitation trucks, and storm drain stencils, EPA and the city are working to change peoples' attitude toward litter and work toward cleaner streets and beaches.

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection Exit EPA disclaimeroperates a fleet of five skimmer boats and maintains booms around 25 major sewer outfalls in the city in order to capture floating debris in the harbor. In 2004, the DEP's skimmer boats picked up almost 1500 cubic yards of floating material, including wood, plastic, metal, rubber, glass and other types of miscellaneous trash. The DEP's public outreach program brings the "Clean Streets/Clean Beaches" campaign to classrooms, beaches and green markets around the city, while the agency also sponsors posters on bus shelters and phone kiosks to spread the message.

The New York City Department of Sanitation Exit EPA disclaimermanages a fleet of approximately 450 mechanical brooms that sweep over 6,000 city street miles on a daily basis -- equivalent to sweeping all the way from New York to Los Angeles and back again! In addition, 91 litter basket collection trucks are assigned daily to service over 25,000 litter baskets on city street corners throughout the five boroughs.

"Clean Streets = Clean Beaches is an important outreach effort aimed at improving the city's cleanliness," said Sanitation Commissioner John J. Doherty. "We must all take responsibility for our actions and acknowledge that the candy wrapper carelessly discarded on the street quite often travels all the way to our shores and mars the beauty of our beaches and waterways. No matter how hard the men and women of my Department work, keeping a city the size of New York clean is up to all of us. There's evidence that our efforts are paying off. Today, New York City is cleaner than it has been in 30 years. Mayor Bloomberg is proud of that, and so are all of us," said Commissioner Doherty.

But stopping litter before it starts is a more efficient solution, and today top officials from all involved agencies called the citizens of New York to action.

"Most New Yorkers don't realize that there's a direct connection between the amount of litter on streets and the amount of litter in the harbor and on the beaches," said DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd. "By aggressively confronting this problem with infrastructure improvements and a fleet of skimmer boats, the city has been able to reduce the amount of floatable trash in the harbor by over 90 percent. But public education is a key component if we are to continue making progress. We are here today to let people know about that direct connection, and that a soda can dropped on the street may soon become trash littering our beaches. It's a message I was glad to initiate when I was Sanitation Commissioner, and it's just as important now."

"The cleanliness of New York City's beaches relies on the disposal of trash by New Yorkers across the city," said Commissioner Benepe. "By responsibly discarding of their trash, New Yorkers help our maintenance staff keep New York City's beautiful beaches clean during the busy summer season."

For more information about how you can help, contact EPA at 212-637-3671. For more information about beach water quality and how beaches are monitored, visit

Information on New York City's efforts can be found at