The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Gulf of Mexico Division recently announced the availability of grant funding for innovative projects focused on reducing the amount of trash in waterways through trash prevention and/or removal. The total estimated funding for this opportunity is approximately $5 million.
“These funds will incentivize new projects to reduce marine litter and protect the health of the Gulf of Mexico and the many communities that rely upon it,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler in a statement. “The Trump administration is working both domestically and internationally to elevate the issue of marine litter and help communities educate the public, clean up trash and prevent it from reaching our oceans in the first place.”
“EPA encourages holistic approaches that protect U.S. waterways from trash, litter and garbage,” said EPA Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker in a statement. “Trash-free water project grants allow recipients to incorporate prevention, removal and outreach techniques that provide meaningful assistance in protecting our beaches, shorelines and waterways.”
Common trash from consumer goods makes up the majority of what eventually becomes marine debris, polluting the waterways and oceans. Plastics in the aquatic environment are of increasing concern because of their persistence and effect on the environment, wildlife and human health. About 80 percent of plastics come from land-based sources carried by both wind and water.
Possible types of eligible projects include:
- Trash Prevention: Trash prevention projects focus on the reduction or elimination of trash that has the potential of entering waterways. These projects are typically focused on source reduction through innovation, industry engagement and stewardship initiatives.
- Trash Removal: Trash removal projects benefit habitat and waterways through the development and use of tools and resources that support trash assessment and stop trash from entering waterbodies and/or remove trash that has already entered the water.
- Outreach/education: Each project should incorporate education and outreach that would result in positive changes in consumer and/or business behaviors and practices to reduce trash in waterways.
Eligible applicants include state agencies, federally recognized tribes and tribal consortia, any agency or instrumentality of local governments, nonprofit organizations, interstate agencies and colleges and universities.
EPA anticipates awarding 10 or more grants under this announcement, with awards being no more than $500,000 subject to the availability of funds, quality of evaluated applications and other applicable considerations. EPA added it reserves the right to make additional awards under this announcement, consistent with agency policy, if additional funding becomes available after the original selections.