NJ closer to leading the country on zero waste: Ban Plastic bags and foam

Thursday, September 17, 2020
NJ_Plastic Bag shutterstock

Trenton - The New Jersey Bag and Styrofoam Ban bill, A1978/S864, took a big step forward today as it passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee (6-3-1) and language in the Assembly version was substituted to reflect the preferred Senate bill which has already passed the full Senate (S864). Over 55 local towns and municipalities across New Jersey have already passed local ordinances, some during the pandemic, restricting or eliminating carryout bags and other single-use plastics. The bill received one small technical amendment in the appropriations committee, but would ban single-use carryout bags and polystyrene foam food containers, as well as require that single-use plastic straws be provided only upon request if passed in its current form and would take effect 18 months after final passage.

Statement from Amy Goldsmith, Clean Water Action State Director:

Clean Water Action appreciates the thoughtful leadership and hard work put in by the sponsors to get the bill to where it is today. We look forward to working with legislators and activists to get the strongest bag bill possible to the Governor’s desk for signature, hopefully before the end of the month. 

The whole point of this legislation is to stop generating single use plastic carrier bags of all thicknesses and foam containers, which are ever present and causing harm to our health and planet. The best solution is to ban them at the state level with minimal exemptions as other municipalities, states, countries, and continents have already done. 

We recognize there have been concerns about implementing this bill during a pandemic as we are experiencing today. However, the bill has an implementation date that commences a year and half from now – a time when we hope to have Covid far behind us. There is no scientific evidence from the CDC, or other health authorities, that single use disposables (plastic or paper) will provide additional protection against the spread of covid or future viruses of concern.

The public and local governments are eager to move ahead - some have already done so and others are poised to pass ordinances in the future if needed. Many businesses are supportive, but rightly seek state wide clarity and continuity in implementation, especially when the policy in one town for one of their stores may be different in another town. While we are not at the finish line yet, and anticipate a push for weakening amendments, it was critical to move it out of committee at this time.