Deptford’s litter patrol has helped keep the township clean since 2021.
The patrol was inspired by Earth Day that year and is made up of township employees who regularly take to the streets. It also was an answer to a manpower shortage caused by COVID.
“Before COVID, (people sentenced to) community service would go around Deptford and pick up trash,” said Mayor Paul Medany. “But lately, we’ve been having trouble getting people sentenced for minor offenses, like shoplifting, which is how the litter patrol came about.
“Now township employees do it and the patrol is a permanent addition, even if the community- service sentences go back up,” he added. “We also have a code enforcer go out to different businesses and encourage them to keep their property clean.”
The patrol is highlighted with a truck and trailer custom wrapped to clearly identify the vehicles as part of the litter effort.
“We bought a pickup truck and trailer with (New Jersey) Clean Communities money,” Medany explained. “The money is from a grant from the state where we participated in the clean communities program and applied for money.”
Along with the obvious unpleasant visuals, litter is bad for the environment. Trash could end up getting into storm drains that will deliver it to streams, rivers and other bodies of water. It is even more of a challenge if the litter in question is not biodegradable.
“A part of it,” Medany pointed out, “is to educate people about where litter comes from and how it is such a problem for the community, how it is both a visual and environmental problem. We want to keep our community clean.”
Another challenge is Deptford’s sheer size: The township is home to more than 500 roads and covers around 17.33 square miles, according to the U.S Census Bureau.
Residents who spot a large pile of litter are asked to fill out a service request form on the township website.