By MADDY VITALE
One might say two forces of nature have come together to promote, educate and improve the environment.
The Delaware River Bay Authority, which oversees the Cape May-Lewes Ferry in Lower Township, is partnering with the Cape May County Municipal Utilities Authority on ways to enhance its green initiatives to continue to keep the grounds and waters as free of pollution and litter as possible.
The 750,000 passengers who ride the ferries each year, marine and wildlife and all of nature are benefiting from the environmental efforts that really increased over the last two years, officials said.
Al Fralinger, environmental compliance and safety manager for the DRBA, and Lyn Crumbock, recycling coordinator for the Cape May County Municipal Utilities Authority, joined forces during the DRBA’s Environmental Day in 2018. The two continue to brainstorm about ways the DRBA can be even better stewards of the environment.
“Since I have been here at DRBA, one of my objectives was to be more publicly visible and involved with communities, the public, regulators and vendors to better the environment through education, working together and sustainable business practices,” Fralinger said. “It is very important to the DRBA to partner with the communities.”
Crumbock said of the initiatives, “As the county recycling coordinator, I communicate frequently with all 16 towns in Cape May County with the requirement to recycle. We all brainstorm with ideas to capture more recycling from the towns.”
Recently Crumbock, on behalf of the MUA, delivered a trophy to the Cape May-Lewes Ferry for the “recycling excellence” of the DRBA.
The DRBA installed 16 receptacles last year at the ferry terminal throughout the staging area, outside the visitors center and outside the eatery. The trash and recycling containers are designed to withstand the elements around the water.
The cost was $9,000, and officials say they hope to add more.
Since the ferry terminal is in Lower Township, the work the staff is doing is helping the township with recycling totals.
“Their sustainability and recycling initiatives are helping Cape May County and Lower Township to achieve greater recycling goals,” Crumbock said. “The most effective tool for recycling and waste disposal is to pair containers. When a trash container is paired with a recycling container, it is more accessible for the public.”
Fralinger explained that the recycling containers, purchased in early 2018, were part of a continuous improvement effort at the site to build upon the 2017 recycling performance, as well as provide access and ease to recycling containers for customers and traveling public.
He said he is looking forward to continued improvements in the DRBA sustainability efforts.
Adding receptacles is just the beginning of an enhanced environmental program at the DRBA.
Silvana Dominioni, director of environmental, health and safety for the DRBA, gave a tour of the ferry grounds, calling the green initiatives a “true team effort” right down to the straws.
The DRBA will no longer give out plastic straws or Styrofoam with patron’s meals, once all of the existing inventory is depleted. The same goes for the plastic bags and any other plastic utensils.
Dominioni noted that Fralinger brought the staff together to increase eco-friendly initiatives because of the importance of maintaining the environment.
Shaun O’Brien, who oversees all activities for food service and the gift shops at the ferry, echoed Dominioni’s sentiments.
“Everyone got on board to look for ways we could improve,” O’Brien said, adding that the team is working on many initiatives to help the environment.
Jeff Robert, the port engineer who ensures the ferries are operating smoothly, chairs the DRBA’s Green Committee.
He spoke a bit about the water fountains installed on the ferries. There is even an additional tap for people to fill their reusable water bottles.
“It is the responsible thing to do,” Robert said. “Reducing plastic is a corporate responsibility. Considering the volume of passengers we have, from an educational standpoint, just the bottle refillers get people thinking.”
Really, Dominioni said, it is about something much bigger than all of the people who ride on the ferry, or the team.
“It is a one and a half hour trip across the bay. You see dolphins and whales. It is the joy of being on the water,” Dominioni noted. “I always say safety and sustainability are a way of life for me and our team. We want to help the environment, and this is our way to do it.”