New Jer­sey law­mak­ers pass plas­tic, pa­per car­ry­out bag ban

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - NEWS -

TREN­TON » Sin­gle-use plas­tic and pa­per bags, as well as plas­tic foam con­tain­ers, would be banned in New Jer­sey un­der leg­is­la­tion that passed the Demo­cratic-led Leg­is­la­ture Thurs­day.

While some states im­pose a fee on pa­per bags, New Jer­sey law­mak­ers say the state would be the first to ban pa­per bags.

The pro­hi­bi­tion would go into ef­fect in 18 months un­der the bill, which goes next to Demo­cratic Gov. Phil Mur­phy.

Mur­phy has in­di­cated he would sign a bill like the one law­mak­ers passed af­ter ve­to­ing a mea­sure that merely added a charge to plas­tic bags. The state Se­nate passed the­mea­sure ear­lier this year.

Eight states have banned plas­tic bags, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Con­fer­ence of State Leg­is­la­tures. Maine and Mary­land have also passed bills ban­ning plas­tic foam. Hawaii has a de facto ban on pa­per bags with less than 40% re­cy­cled ma­te­rial, ac­cord­ing to the con­fer­ence.

The New Jer­sey bill’s spon­sors say it’s nec­es­sary to safe­guard the en­vi­ron­ment.

“The health and safety of fu­ture gen­er­a­tions de­pend on the choices we make to­day. Sin­gle-use plas­tic prod­ucts are one of the sin­gle great­est threats to our oceans, en­vi­ron­ment, and health,” Assem­bly­woman Nancy Pinkin said.

Repub­li­cans op­posed the mea­sure, say­ing it would wal­lop small busi­nesses that have been badly hurt by the pan­demic.

So what should peo­ple and busi­nesses use, if they can’t use pa­per and plas­tic?

The ban doesn’t ap­ply to re­us­able car­ry­out bags, de­fined in the mea­sure as one made out of polypropy­lene, as well as those made out of ny­lon, cloth or hemp, or other wash­able fab­rics. Bags with stitched han­dles are also ex­empt un­der the mea­sure.

En­vi­ron­men­tal groups praised the mea­sure. New Jer­sey Sierra Club di­rec­tor called it a “ma­jor en­vi­ron­men­tal vic­tory.”

In­dus­try groups op­posed it.

“This bill im­pacts man­u­fac­tur­ing plants in New Jer­sey and New Jer­sey jobs dur­ing this ter­ri­ble eco­nomic and pan­demic time,” said Den­nis Hart, the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Chem­istry Coun­cil, which rep­re­sents plas­tics man­u­fac­tur­ers.

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