NJ Set to Enact Toughest Plastic Ban in U.S.
New Jersey continues moving toward adoption of one of the toughest plastic bans in the nation.
Lawmakers are scheduled to consider a bill this week that bans plastic bags, carryout containers, straws, cups, food trays and even egg cartons. The bill would also impose a 10-cent fee on paper bags. The ultimate goal is to drive consumers to reusable bags.
Last year, Gov. Phil Murphy vetoed a measure that would have imposed a 5-cent tax on all disposable bags (plastic and paper), but did not impose a ban. At the time, Murphy said he wanted a tougher measure that included a ban similar to one New York City was considering. New York has since imposed a ban on virtually all plastic and Styrofoam packaging.
New Jersey’s ban faced stiff opposition from small businesses and restaurants that claimed it would hurt their bottom line. Resistance has softened a bit as more local towns imposed their own bans. The New Jersey Food Council, an alliance of food retailers, also came out in support of the measure. CEO Linda Doherty called it a “sensible solution” in a written statement to New Jersey 101.5 and pledged “to work with the legislature and the Murphy Administration on a statewide standard.”
The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Bob Smith (D-Middlesex), had wanted to toughen the ban even further, to include paper take-out bags. In May, Smith said there was growing evidence that simply charging 10 cents for a paper bag would not act a deterrent. He said customers would easily pay it without effecting any change in the amount of trash and contamination single-use bags are causing.
Environmentalists hail the ban as good for New Jersey’s marine life. Environment New Jersey cites research that has found plastic fragments in hundreds of species, including 86 percent of all sea turtle species, 44 percent of all seabird species and 43 percent of all marine mammal species.
If the legislature approves the ban, and the Governor signs it into law, it would take effect after one year. The 10-cent paper bag fee would take effect in two years.