A significant reduction in litter was registered on roads and highways in 18 of New Jersey's 21 counties between 2004 and 2017, according to the most recent update from the New Jersey Clean Communities Council.

The report gauged progress, or lack of it, at 94 sites in the state. Bergen and Middlesex counties each had 10 spots monitored in '04 and '17. In Hunterdon, one of the three counties that recorded a street-litter uptick, just one site was monitored.

Litter increases were also spotted in Hudson and Morris counties. At 81%, Atlantic County experienced the most significant decline in litter, followed by Monmouth County at 78%.

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"I think if the county itself, along our roadways, shows a clean environment — clean roads and bridges — I think it just makes people get a second thought in their mind before they throw a bag out of their window," said Monmouth County Freeholder Director Thomas Arnone.

Arnone credited Clean Communities coordinators and the County Recycling and Solid Waste Planning staff for the county's reported reduction in roadway litter. The availability of more garbage and recycling bins throughout the county, he said, make a real difference as well.

Leadership in this area is in unique in Monmouth County, Arnone added, as the county's freeholder board is the only one in the state made up completely of former mayors.

"If I see a county road that might need a little special attention — and I'm on a lot of county roads — I notify our Public Works ASAP," Arnone said. "They probably wish I didn't drive around as much."

Changes in litter, according to the report, are more meaningful for counties where a larger number of sites were monitored.

Statewide, litter reduction was recorded at 93% of sites. The state experienced a 53% drop in litter on streets and highways.

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.