Innovative Infrastructure Grants 'Curb' Marine Debris

May 15, 2021
Program supports communities in preventing litter from entering waterways

Two companies have joined forces to help communities across the nation reduce the amount of litter entering waterways via stormwater drains.

Dart Container Corporation, one of the world's largest producers of food and beverage packaging, is partnering with UltraTech International in a new grant program that takes aim at marine debris caused by unfiltered storm drains.

The new program provides up to $100,000 in grants for municipalities, marinas and other organizations to purchase and install UltraTech's patented Ultra-Drain Guard stormwater management products. Each grant of up to $4,000 will prevent litter, oil and sediment from entering waterways through storm drains.

"People often assume that storm drains flow to a wastewater treatment plant," said UltraTech CEO Mark Shaw. "In reality, nearly 80 percent of all storm drains flow directly into a nearby body of water. Each of our storm drain catch-basin devices can eliminate thousands of pounds of contamination at the curb." The devices are also outfitted with safety measures that allow for overflow in the case of extreme weather or flooding.

Dart was eager to get involved after learning about UltraTech's drain guard technology and a pilot program that captured approximately 1,250 pounds of litter, oil and sediment from stormwater runoff in a matter of weeks. As part of its comprehensive approach to sustainability, Dart has long been committed to ensuring waste, particularly from foodservice products, is recycled or disposed of properly.

"We were impressed with the success of UltraTech's Ultra-Drain Guards in stopping litter from entering waterways," said Michael Westerfield, Dart's director of recycling. "We joined forces to help communities and marinas that may not otherwise have the resources to purchase and install the catch-basin devices."

These devices "are a simple, innovative and effective way to curb the amount of debris that ends up in our waters," Westerfield stated.

UltraTech's drain guards can be emptied and reused, providing a significant long-term benefit to our environment as grantees apply for and install the devices.

Recycling Investments Reduce Marine Debris

As well as investments in devices that capture litter and prevent marine debris, the Dart family of companies recently invested $18 million in a reclamation facility that recycles commingled bales of foam and solid polystyrene from residential curbside recycling programs in the U.S. and Canada.

The Dart-affiliated center, Omni Recycling Inc., is located in Indianapolis, Ind.

Omni keeps recyclable plastic material in North America, reducing dependence on under-developed overseas waste management infrastructure, and allows the center to directly sell recycled material to manufacturers looking to use recycled content in their products. Overseas waste management facilities lack the infrastructure and regulations needed to properly contain waste and recyclable material, resulting in increased marine debris. The center also reduces the environmental impacts of shipping unfinished and finished material between continents.

"As a manufacturer, we accept and take responsibility for the environmental impacts of our products," said Westerfield. "The partnership with UltraTech and our investment in Omni are among the many actions Dart is taking to be a responsible corporate citizen and inspire and help others be the same."

UltraTech's Shaw said, "We appreciate Dart's leadership and investment in doing their part to solve the significant problem of litter on our planet. It's encouraging to see a corporation being part of the solution." SW

Author's Note: Organizations wanting to learn more about the program or submit applications for grants of up to $4,000 should visit or call UltraTech at (904) 292-1611.

Mario Cruz is the marketing director at UltraTech International Inc. 

Published in Stormwater magazine, May 2021

About the Author

Mario Cruz

Mario Cruz is the Marketing Director at UltraTech International, INC. 

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