Governor Murphy Clears a Path to Break the Plastics Habit that is Ruining the Planet
Toms River, NJ: Clean Water Action praises Governor Phil Murphy’s veto of bill (S2600/A3267) passed by the NJ legislature in June that would put a 5-cent fee on single-use plastic and paper bag. This bill would have prevented municipalities from passing stronger local ordinances on plastic bags.
“While well intentioned, the bill would not have solved the fundamental problem of breaking the plastic habit that is destroying our oceans, causing public health problems, and damaging the environment,” said Amy Goldsmith, NJ State Director of Clean Water Action, who testified at a joint Senate and Assembly hearing last week in Toms River on plastics pollution.
Governor Murphy vetoed the bill Monday, days following the hearing that took a surprise turn when Senator Bob Smith, D-Piscataway announced that the Governor would veto the bill. Clean Water Action, which has been working in collaboration with Clean Ocean Action, Sierra Club, Save Barnegat Bay, Environment New Jersey and Surfrider Foundation to advocate for a veto and fix (i.e. replace with a ban on plastic bags), joined the chorus of applause on the pending veto announcement.
“Single use plastics are causing irreparable damage to our environment, marine life, oceans, and health. That's because much of it ends up in our landfills, incinerators and waterways," said Goldsmith. "We applaud Governor Murphy for vetoing the industry-led Bag Bill (S2600/A3267) and thank Senator Smith for introducing stronger legislation (S2776/A4330) that will address a trifecta of plastic waste- bags, straws and Styrofoam."
“Governor Murphy just cleared the way for New Jersey to once again become an environmental leader,” said Janet Tauro, NJ Board Chair of Clean Water Action. “Just as we had a paradigm shift 30 years ago with recycling, Governor Murphy’s strong leadership will go a long way toward making reusables the new normal.”
"This is a huge victory for New Jersey," said Goldsmith. "We look forward to working with Governor Murphy and the NJ Legislature to pass stronger legislation that is effective and truly benefits our environment, health and communities."
S2776/A4330, sponsored by Senator Smith, will ban single-use carryout plastic bags, expanded polystyrene food service products, and single-use plastic straws. Clean Water Action is calling on Senator Smith to perfect the bill even further by ensuring:
- effective enforcement from state and local authorities.
- no limit to square footage of retail space to which this bill applies.
- no loopholes that would allow stores or food service businesses to provide alternative single-use bags such as “compostable” or “biodegradable” plastic bags, or to allow thicker single-use plastic carryout bags to pass as reusable.
- a 10 cent fee on all other carry-out bags to avoid the environmental effects of simply replacing one single-use disposable item with another.
Plastic pieces on the ocean surface now outnumber sea life 6 to 1. Plastic contain chemicals like BPA, which are absorbe by the body. Studies show that they alter hormones and disrupt the endocrine system. Styrene, a component of plastic, has been found in human breast milk.
“He’s looking after the health wellbeing of future generations and throwing a lifeline to our choking oceans,” added Tauro. “This is a time for bold action. He may receive criticism on this, but this is a Governor who wants and does the right thing for New Jersey. We at Clean Water Action applaud Governor Murphy. He has our full support.”
The public is ready. Worldwide, countries are banning plastic bags. Nationally, states are taking strong action. And in recent months, cities and municipalities across New Jersey have adopted strong plastic bag ban ordinances.
Clean Water Action is leading the way in reducing single-use disposable products used in the food service industry. It has launched a national award winning "ReThink Disposable" program which prevents waste before it starts by working with local governments, businesses, and consumers to minimize single-use disposable packaging in food service to conserve resources and prevent waste and ocean litter pollution. www.rethinkdisposable.org www.cleanwater.org/nj
Since our founding during the campaign to pass the landmark Clean Water Act in 1972, Clean Water Action has worked to win strong health and environmental protections by bringing issue expertise, solution-oriented thinking and people power to the table. Clean Water Action has more than 100,000 members in New Jersey. www.cleanwater.org/nj