FY24 Marine Debris Interception Technologies Funding Opportunity Applicant Webinar

This informational webinar on the Fiscal Year 2024 NOAA Marine Debris Interception Technologies under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding opportunity took place September 13, 2023. The NOAA Marine Debris Program provided an overview of the funding available, the priorities of this competition, an overview of the submission process, and application resources.

This funding opportunity focuses on the installation, monitoring, and maintenance of proven marine debris interception technologies that will capture marine debris at or close to known marine debris sources or pathways. These proven technologies may include litter traps, shoreline removal technologies, booms, skimmers, conveyors, floating collection devices, and other technologies that do not require additional research and development. Letters of Intent are due on November 15, 2023, 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time. Learn more on our Funding Opportunities page


[SLIDE 1] Welcome everyone to the second of the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s applicant webinars for this year. Today’s webinar will be highlighting our FY24 Marine Debris Interception Technologies funding opportunity, under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Yesterday, we hosted a webinar focused on our removal funding opportunity. If you missed that webinar, a recording will be on our website in the near future. My name is Sarah Lowe and I am a grants management specialist with the NOAA Marine Debris Program. I’m joined today by Amanda Dwyer and Tom Barry who are also part of the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s Grant team. If you have questions throughout this presentation, please enter them in the question box. Our moderator will be collecting them and we will either address them on the webinar or we will follow up with you afterwards. Also, this webinar will be recorded and will be available on our website as soon as possible.


[SLIDE 2] For today’s presentation, we will be providing you with a background on our program and the funding, and will also be getting into the details regarding this funding opportunity. We will share the anticipated funding levels, eligibility, competition priorities and process, application content and resources, information on how the applications will be evaluated, tips and submission instructions, and lastly the anticipated timeline for this competition.


[SLIDE 3] Through this webinar today, we are hoping to communicate our expectations for proposal submission, timelines, process, and of course answer questions.


[SLIDE 4] We will start with a brief introduction of the NOAA Marine Debris Program, which was established as the federal lead for marine debris in 2006 through the Marine Debris Act. Our mission is to investigate and prevent the adverse impacts of marine debris. Our team consists of around 30 people of which about half are located in NOAA HQ office in Silver Spring, MD and the other half are in field offices around the country.


[SLIDE 5] Eleven of our staff are regional coordinators who are both regional and technical experts on marine debris, and who may be able to answer any region-specific questions about your proposed project ideas. We encourage you to reach out to these individuals with those questions - and I’ll share this slide again at the end of the webinar for their contact information.


[SLIDE 6] Funding for this competition is being provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, formerly known as Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). NOAA will receive $1.467 billion dollars for their Climate Ready Coasts portfolio, which focuses on helping coastal communities build the future they want to see. NOAA will be investing in high-impact natural infrastructure projects that build coastal resilience, create jobs, store carbon, and restore habitat.


[SLIDE 7] Within NOAA’s Climate Ready Coasts BIL portfolio, two provisions are designed to address the issue of marine debris. Provision 7 which is overseen by the NOAA MDP in the National Ocean Service, and Provision 8 which is overseen by the National Sea Grant office in NOAA’s Oceans and Atmospheric Research. Specifically, the NOAA Marine Debris Program will receive $150 million over 5 years (from FY22 - FY26) for “marine debris assessment, prevention, mitigation, and removal.” Most of this funding is expected to be used for competitive removal grants, such as this one. 


[SLIDE 8] Last year, we had offered our first round of BIL funding. With combined funding from FY22 and FY23, NOAA MDP has awarded $54.5M in competitive grant awards with an additional $12.64M of leveraged one-time Inflation Reduction Act funding. 13 transformational multi-year marine debris removal projects were funded under two priorities:

  • 11 projects were selected under the first priority which included removal of significant legacy debris such as abandoned and derelict vessels (ADVs) and derelict fishing gear (DFG). Other examples of large debris to be removed under this priority include a plane, oil and gas infrastructure, and other large debris.

  • Under the second priority, 2 projects were awarded that deploy marine debris interception technologies. These are devices that will capture and remove marine debris before it enters waterways.

  • The NOAA MDP received requests for $330.6 million in federal funds under these two priorities last year, to give you an idea of the competitiveness of this funding opportunity. 


[SLIDE 9] For this year, we have split our two general priorities (removal and interception technologies) into two separate funding opportunities. Again, the funding opportunity we are highlighting today is only covering our FY24 interception technology funding opportunity. For this fiscal year, up to $4M will be available to award to meritorious interception technology projects. Individual interception technology projects should request at least $100,000, but no more than $1M. We expect typical awards to range from $250K to $750K dollars.


Through this competition, matching funds are not required, but are strongly encouraged, These match funds can be in the form of direct cost sharing, in-kind support (such as volunteer labor or equipment use) and also leveraged funds. Please note, there will be an evaluation criteria regarding cost sharing and leveraged funds, which is why it is strongly encouraged, where possible.


[SLIDE 10] Eligible applicants include state, local, Tribal, territory, and freely associated state governments whose activities affect research or regulation of marine debris, as well as any institution of higher education, nonprofit organization, or commercial (for-profit) organization with expertise in a field related to marine debris. All proposed work must take place in the coastal areas and waterways of the U.S., including Great Lakes, US territories, and freely associated states.


[SLIDE 11] Non-eligible applicants would be federal agencies or employees of federal agencies. Although interested federal agencies or employees may collaborate with eligible applicants, they cannot receive funding through this competition. Additionally, foreign public entities, individuals, and organizations, from outside the Freely Associated States and United States are not eligible to apply. Please note as we walk through the priorities for this competition, there are additional expectations applicants will need to demonstrate to be competitive for the various priorities of this competition. 


[SLIDE 12] The highest priority for this funding opportunity is to support the installation, monitoring, and maintenance of proven marine debris interception technologies. Projects must clearly demonstrate the beneficial impacts that the project will have on marine and coastal NOAA trust resources, coastal communities, and/or local economies, and technologies should be deployed in riverine, shoreline, estuarine, and urban environments where trash, plastics, and other persistent, reaccumulating macro debris can be captured and removed.


[SLIDE 13] For the purpose of this funding opportunity, marine debris interception technologies are defined as devices that capture trash, plastics, and other macro-debris. These can be technologies such as litter traps, shoreline removal technologies, booms, skimmers, conveyors with receptacles, floating collection devices, and others.


This competition is looking to fund Proven interception technologies, which are those that are not prototype devices and do not require additional research and development prior to deployment. They must also have been used successfully in the environment type in which they are being proposed. So for example, a device that has been proven successful in low-energy environment (such as an inland lake, canal, nearshore sheltered environment, etc.), should not be proposed for a high-energy river environment without demonstrated success.


Each of these interception technologies may be utilized alone or together as part of a wider strategy.


[SLIDE 14] Marine debris interception technologies typically require long-term maintenance. As such, project proposals must provide a monitoring and maintenance plan which describes how the chosen technology or technologies will be monitored and maintained both throughout the award (if made), but also in the long-term with the absence of federal funding following any award. To that end, applicants should note that the long-term monitoring and maintenance plan is an element considered in the evaluation criteria. As part of this monitoring and maintenance plan, NOAA encourages projects to collect data on the types of debris captured and to characterize the waste collected. Priority will be given to those applications that have a long-term monitoring and maintenance plan in place which does not require additional future federal funding.


[SLIDE 15] The third identified priority for this competition is that NOAA will prioritize applications that demonstrate clear removal and disposal outcomes. Applicants should identify clear target removal metrics, such as pounds removed, and removals should also be conducted with a focus on alternative disposal methods when possible, which means applicants should use disposal methods that are the most environmentally friendly given the location, availability, and resources of the specific removal effort.


[SLIDE 16] The intent of this funding is to not only remove debris, but to reduce the reaccumulation of debris in the future. By incorporating prevention activities along with removal, the likelihood of reaccumulation of debris will decrease. To this end, successful interception technology proposals for this funding opportunity should also be paired with a prevention strategy or plan, such as behavior change and/or awareness efforts through an education and outreach plan or other source reduction efforts. These strategies should incorporate efforts to raise awareness of the issue of marine debris and involve local stakeholders with the goals of preventing everyday problems (e.g. littering, waste mismanagement), as well as to ensure the long-term maintenance of any deployed equipment that is procured with federal funding. The strategies proposed should reflect the debris types that are being collected by the interception technology, as well as the appropriate audience to prevent future accumulation of that debris. Prevention activities should also prioritize collaboration with diverse entities and groups.


[SLIDE 17] NOAA is committed to advancing equity and support for underserved communities. We strongly encourage applicants to incorporate diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and accessibility into their projects through proactive, meaningful, and equitable community engagement at various stages of the proposed projects. This work can be demonstrated in a variety of ways, which include, but are not limited to working in or with underserved communities, working with stakeholders for whom there is currently limited direct engagement on marine debris issues, encouraging diverse perspectives from project leaders and partners (including, but not limited to, sectors, age, career stage, gender, ethnicity, disability, geography), incorporating different learning or engagement approaches into the project, or translation of resources/signage into other languages. Applicants should describe any project activities that will take place within, have a portion of the benefits flow to, and/or meaningfully engage Tribal or underserved communities. Meaningful engagement refers to an intentional exchange between the applicant and the underserved community where both have multiple opportunities to ensure the other is correctly understanding each other’s perspectives and ideas.

Applicants should note that greater consideration will be given to projects that propose to work in areas with underserved communities that have been historically marginalized and overburdened by pollution. Please see the notice of funding opportunity for additional details and tools to aid you in this priority. 


[SLIDE 18] We also wanted to outline the competition process, as this is different from our previous round of BIL funding. This year, our competition includes a Letter of Intent step to determine if proposed projects are well-suited for this specific competition. Applicants must submit a letter of intent (or LOI) and receive an invitation from the NOAA MDP before submitting a full proposal. Additionally, LOIs are NOT submitted via grants.gov, but must be submitted via email as an attachment to our grants email grants.marinedebris@noaa.gov by 11:59pm ET on November 15th. You will then receive an email confirmation from our team. We highly recommend that LOIs are submitted early in the event that there are issues with the email submission or attachment. 


The goal of the LOI process is to streamline the proposal review and to provide feedback and guidance on invited application ideas. LOIs will be reviewed by at least 3 qualified reviewers, in accordance with the LOI evaluation criteria, which I will outline more in a few slides. Based on the merits of the proposal and alignment with funding priorities, applicants will receive an email indicating whether their project is invited to submit a full proposal or not. Feedback on the reviewed LOI and full proposal submission instructions will be included at that time.


Again, only applicants who have been invited to submit a full proposal may do so. Full proposals are then due to be submitted to the grants.gov website by March 15th, 2024. These full proposals will then also enter our merit review process, as outlined in the funding opportunity. The exact amount of funds to be awarded and other changes will be determined in any pre-award negotiations. 


[SLIDE 19] The LOIs that are submitted must be no more than 3 pages in length, and be single spaced using 11 or 12 point font on an 8.5x11 page size. They should also have page margins that are no smaller than 1” on each edge. A 4th page may be submitted showing only project site maps and photographs of the area or the debris targeted for removal. 


Letters of Intent should have the following 9 components highlighted here in letters A through I. They should include the applicant organization, project title, the list of principal investigators and project partners (including their contact info and experience), and the project location. The project description should outline the purpose of the project and the list of tasks to be completed, it should describe the proposed interception technology, where it has been used successfully in the type of environment in which it is being proposed, and describe the need or severity of the debris problem related to the proposed project site. The project description should also include a summary of the complementary prevention strategy, and a short description of the long-term monitoring and maintenance plan along with the chosen disposal strategy.


Following the project description, the LOIs should list the anticipated technology installation date (not the proposed award start date), the approximate federal funds being requested and the approximate non-federal match or informal leverage anticipated, it should highlight project outcomes and metrics, and lastly describe how the project demonstrates principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, justice & accessibility.  


[SLIDE 20] Besides the NOFO, we encourage you to check out our website (marinedebris.noaa.gov) for additional guidance and resources for your applications.  Most notably for this first step in the application process, we provide an LOI template and some NOFO guidance. There are additional resources for the full proposal stage as well.


[SLIDE 21] As mentioned previously, LOIs will be evaluated by at least 3 reviewers according to the evaluation criteria as outlined in the NOFO. We’ve copied that here for your general awareness. There are 5 pieces which follow our identified priorities: will the project have impactful benefits to NOAA trust resources and the surrounding coastal environment or community?; Are there clearly identified project goals and objectives with a realistic and cost-effective approach?; the applicant capabilities, experience, or expertise; are prevention activities included and appropriate?; and does the project demonstrate how diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and accessibility will be promoted in the project. There are additional detailed questions in those evaluation criteria as outlined here and in the NOFO.


[SLIDE 22] Next we have some general application tips. Please note adobe PDF is the preferred format for application attachments. Please combine files into one pdf, if necessary.


As mentioned earlier, please carefully review the NOFO for certain details about proposal requirements we were not able to cover today. Again, we highly encourage you to view the guidance on our Proposal Submission Guidance for Applicants webpage.


[SLIDE 23] When you are ready to submit your LOI, we have outlined the submission instructions here. As mentioned previously, you MUST submit a LOI and receive an invitation from the NOAA MDP before submitting a full proposal. LOIs must be submitted as an email attachment to grants.marinedebris@noaa.gov by 11:59 pm ET on November 15th, 2023. Please submit early as we cannot extend the deadline for folks who may experience technical difficulties or other extenuating circumstances on the day the submissions are due. Within the NOFO, you will also see another due date (March 15th). Please note that this due date is only for invited full proposals. Again, LOIs are due on November 15th.


When emailing the LOI, please put “FY24 NOAA Marine Debris Interception Technologies Letter of Intent or LOI” in the email subject line.


Once submitted, you will receive an email confirmation indicating successful submission. If you do not receive an email, that is an indication that the LOI submission was not successful and therefore will not be reviewed. So again, please submit early in case there are issues with your submission.


[SLIDE 24] For your planning purposes, here is the anticipated timeline for award review and notifications. Again, LOIs are due to our grants.marinedebris@noaa.gov email address by 11:59 pm ET November 15th, 2023. The LOI will be reviewed in December 2023. We are then planning to send invitations for full proposals out in January 2024. After that point, we will have another information webinar like this, which will be for invited full proposal applicants only. Those invited applications will then be due to grants.gov by 11:59 pm ET on March 15th, 2024. The full proposal review will occur from March through April 2024. We are hoping to recommend projects for funding and notify those successful and unsuccessful full proposal applicants in May 2024. And finally, awards will receive an official offer and project activities can begin in late summer/early fall of 2024 (so around this time next year).


[SLIDE 25] There are several other funding opportunities related to marine debris that we also wanted to highlight. The first is that the NOAA MDP has a second funding opportunity open currently, directed at supporting impactful, large marine debris removal projects. If you are also interested in that opportunity, you may find additional information on our website. A recording of the webinar (which was held yesterday) will also be available in the near future.


The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also provided $50 million to the National Sea Grant College Program for marine debris prevention and removal over the next 5 years.

We are happy to help share that their FY24 funding opportunities were just announced today!

A total of $19M will be used to address the prevention and removal of marine debris across two funding opportunities. The first is their Marine Debris Challenge Competition, in which approximately $16M will be available to support innovative research to application projects that will address the prevention and removal of marine debris. Their second funding opportunity will have approximately $3M available to support the creation of coalitions and partnerships to address marine debris prevention and removal. 

Look for more information on this Sea Grant funding at seagrant.noaa.gov/marine-debris

If after today’s overview of the NOAA MDP’s removal competition priorities you realize your project might not align with this particular funding opportunity, we highly suggest you review these other marine debris competition opportunities, to see if they would be a better fit for your project ideas. 


[SLIDE 26] That concludes the overview of our interception technology funding opportunity, but we would like to take some time to address a few questions that were submitted through the registration process. I'm going to switch over to those questions and start to read them off.


So the first question we had received through registration was 


‘Will research projects with field testing components be funded?’


The answer there is no. So funding for research and development or the deployment of unproven devices, so those that have not been used successfully in the type of environment in which they are being proposed, will not be supported are being proposed, will not be supported through this competition. So we do encourage you to investigate the other funding that will be available this year including the sea grant funding as one of those may be more applicable to your work.


Question two:


‘Does this grant opportunity apply to the Saipan mayor's office to perform the said project?’


Answer: Yes, as highlighted in the presentation and in the funding opportunity, eligible applicants include state, local, tribal, territory, and freely associated state governments, whose activities affect research or regulation of marine debris, as well as any institution of higher education, nonprofit organization, or commercial for-profit organization with expertise in a field related to marine debris. All proposed work must take place in the coastal areas and waterways of the United States including Great Lakes, U.S. territories, and freely associated states.


The third question that we have received


‘Could this funding be used for storm water retrofits to trap and retain trash from storm water runoff?’


Yes, through this funding NOAA seeks to fund projects focused on the deployment of proven marine debris interception technologies in riverine, shoreline, estuarine, and urban environments, where trash, plastics, and other persistent reaccumulating macro debris can be captured and removed. And for the purpose of this funding opportunity marine debris interception technologies include devices such as litter traps, shoreline devices such as litter traps, shoreline removal technologies, booms, skimmers, conveyors with receptacles, floating collection devices, etc. all of those things that capture trash, plastics, and other macro debris.


Another question that we have is 


‘How does this funding opportunity differ from the other funding opportunities related to marine debris that NOAA is providing through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law?’


So again, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides roughly $3 billion dollars over five years for NOAA including $150 million dollars to the NOAA Marine Debris Program to support marine debris prevention and removal. These funding opportunities or this funding opportunity through the NOAA Marine Debris Program prioritizes the use of proven interception technologies to capture marine debris. We do have the other funding opportunity that is focused on removing large marine debris. $50 million dollars as I mentioned was also appropriated to NOAA Sea Grant. So those funding opportunities through NOAA Sea Grant have been primarily focused on building community level marine debris coalitions and supporting those innovative research and development projects that address prevention and removal of marine debris and they are continuing that with this year's competitions as well. 


uh I guess a note on that too so 


‘How are the marine debris funding opportunities through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law being coordinated between the NOAA Marine Debris Program and the NOAA Sea Grant?’


So the NOAA Marine Debris Program is working with NOAA Sea Grant to coordinate our activities and share information in order to reduce duplication and identify opportunities for collaboration.


So through all the various funding elements of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law the NOAA Marine Debris Program will continue to work closely with all of our NOAA partners to coordinate efforts and make a collective impact.


Okay, another question that has come in, we're going to move now to those questions that have come in live during the presentation, we will be addressing some of them but also we will follow up on some of them as well after the webinar.


So the first question we have 


‘Does the interception funding opportunity cover interception technologies that capture and remove floating debris after it has entered a water body?’


Yes, so this is certainly an acceptable project type as long it is consistent with the requirements and the priorities of the competition. You'll also want to ensure that you are coordinating with all of the appropriate landowners, regulatory agencies, and other local stakeholders to ensure a successful project.


Okay, another question,


‘Are projects that have already been installed but are currently in a pilot phase to evaluate long-term placement of the interception device eligible for the grant?’


So if the devices are not prototypes or otherwise unproven projects that expand on existing efforts in order to increase the impact of those efforts may be allowed.


Okay, the next question, 


‘I have a question regarding the selection process. How many groups will be invited for submitting the LOI?’ 


Good question, we don't have a set number or target number of invites, those will be based all on the merit of the submitted letters of intent.


Okay another question, 


‘Define the coastal location of projects?’


So projects that take place in a coastal state and you want to make sure you are demonstrating a reasonable connection to downstream impacts to NOAA trust resources. Hopefully that answers that question.


‘Can an organization apply for both the interception technology

opportunity and the Sea Grant opportunity?’


 Yes, definitely, just don't apply with the same project to both. Make sure your proposals are tailored effectively to all of the priorities and submission requirements of each one. So just don't duplicate or copy paste because they won't meet those requirements and they are slightly different.


Okay, I'm gonna check with my team and make sure we don't have any other live questions. I think we're good. um Okay let me switch back to our presentation.


[Slide 27] If we did not address your question live today, please know that we did receive it and will respond separately. If you have other questions specific to your project or have questions come up following this webinar, please reach out to the NOAA MDP grants team via email @ (grants.marinedebris@noaa.gov). 


If you have project-based questions related to the particular region of your proposed work, please reach out to the Regional coordinator in the area the work is being proposed as they would be a good resource as well.


[Slide 28]  So again I mentioned I would share this slide again. This is a list of our regional contacts if you would like to jot them down. I can leave this up for a few seconds and again this information is available on our website as well if you ever need to find it again.


[Slide 29] Alright and as a reminder, this webinar has been recorded and will be available on our website as soon as possible. We thank you all for your participation this afternoon and hope you have a great rest of your day. Thank you.