New Jersey is distributing $14.3 million in grants to municipalities for improving recycling efforts.

In 1987, the state required municipalities to establish recycling programs.

In 2014, the latest year for which data is available, recycling rates were at 41 percent for municipal waste — higher than the national average, but still short of the state's current 50 percent goal.

The money can be used for “things such as running tire collection days, providing recycling receptacles, doing leaf composting in the fall, any kind of initiative that enhances and encourages local recycling efforts,”  said Caryn Shinske, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The grants are funded by a $3 per ton surcharge on trash going into landfills.

While some municipalities around the country are re-evaluating or even discontinuing their recycling programs because the market for recyclables is down, Shinske said New Jersey towns do not have that option.

“Even though there are market fluctuations, it does not mean that we give up on recycling. Unfortunately, it’s the nature of the beast,” Shinske said. “Fluctuations do not absolve any municipality from their obligations to collect their main core recyclables.”