What would the nation’s strictest plastic ban mean for New Jersey’s retailers?
Virtually anyone driving on New Jersey’s major highways or visiting its waterways can see the Garden State has a plastic problem. Bag littered views extend from High Point to Cape May. The state’s new governor, Phil Murphy, and his supporters in the assembly and senate are pursuing a plan they believe will improve the view and enhance the environment. Opponents say the cost of beautiful vistas may lead to an ugly end for businesses, the workers they employ and the customers they serve.
The proposed legislation that made it out of the Senate Environment and Energy Committee by a four to one vote would ban stores from handing out single-use plastic bags, plastic straws and polystyrene food containers.
It would also levy a 10-cent tax on single-use paper bags, half of which would go to the Plastic Pollution Prevention Fund created by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection to help develop the plastic recycling industry in New Jersey. The other half would go to merchants participating in the program.
Environmental groups, including the League of Conservation Voters, the New Jersey Sierra Club, New Jersey Audubon Society and others, have come out in favor of the proposal.
“If this bill passes, it would be the most comprehensive in the nation,” Kelly Mooij, a vice president of New Jersey Audubon, told NJ Spotlight. “In one fell swoop, we would be addressing all the major causes of plastic pollution.”
Matt Seaholm, the executive director of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, had a different take in an interview with NJ Advance Media. He called the proposed legislation “onerous” and that it would result in “an incredible amount of pain” for businesses and consumers alike.
The bill does provide some outs for business, including an exemption from the state’s Department of Environmental Protection should “reasonably affordable” alternatives for polystyrene not be found.
- Lawmakers Plan to Ban Plastic Carryout Bags, Straws, Food Containers – NJ Spotlight
- Ban bags and straws? N.J. proposal would be the strictest in the nation – NJ.com
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What would the proposed ban on single-use plastic bags, straws and polystyrene containers mean for New Jersey’s retailers? Do you think the government or private business/industry groups are in a better position to deal with the ecological harm that results from plastic waste?