A policy measure designed to curb the use of single-use carryout receptacles across New Jersey advanced from the Assembly Appropriations Committee Sept. 17. The pro-environment legislation was sponsored by Assembly members John McKeon (D-27), Nancy Pinkin (D-18), and James Kennedy (D-22).
McKeon argued the legislation stemmed from efforts sprouting up across the state to ban their use, saying nearly 40 towns had already banned plastic bags.
“This legislation supports community efforts to reduce litter and protect their environments,” said the Assemblyman. “The reality is disposable plastics are causing damage to our environment. Anything we can do to curb its effects will help us better protect our oceans, our communities, our health, and to fight climate change.”
Restrictions Placed on Bags, Straws
The bill would prohibit the use of single-use plastic carryout bags, single-use paper carryout bags, and polystyrene foam foodservice products. Additionally, it would limit the provision of single-use plastic straws.
The individual rules would be implemented over time and preempt municipal and county legislation. The bill established penalties for violations of the bill, with fines ranging from a warning for the first offense to $5,000 for third of subsequent offenses.
Additionally, the legislation would grant authority to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to adopt rules and regulations to effectuate the bill. The agency would then establish a “Plastics Advisory Council” to monitor these efforts.
“This legislation, if enacted, would be the strongest law implemented in the nation to curb the use of these products and maintain New Jersey’s stance as a leader in environmental protection,” said Pinkin.
Studying Plastics’ Impacts
The proposed law would provide funding to study in effects of single-use plastics and micro-plastics on public health and the environment.
Funding would be given to the study of alternatives to single-use plastics, and strategies addressing the recyclability of plastics.
“There are more sustainable, environmentally-friendly alternatives that many are already using in place of these products. This legislation aims to encourage all of us to act together to protect New Jersey’s environmental future,” said Kennedy.