Just yesterday, Maine became the first state in the nation to ban Styrofoam food containers. The new legislation also prohibits the use of plastic straws in state facilities. Maine is also moving on a bill to ban plastic bags. In March, New York began its statewide ban on most types of single-use plastic bags from retail sales next March. The ban would forbid stores to provide customers with single-use plastic bags. California also has a statewide ban on plastic bags. The New Jersey legislature have introduced a comprehensive bill that would ban S2776(Smith), that would ban polystyrene, single use plastic bags, and plastic straws, however, there has been minimum movement on the bill.
“The plastic ban bandwagon is hitting the nation. Maine just banned Styrofoam, New York banned single use plastic bags, and many other states are following that lead. New Jersey is supposed to be leading the nation in banning plastic and now we are lagging. What is happening in Maine and New York should jumpstart this state towards moving forward on the most comprehensive plastic ban bills in the nation. The more we procrastinate, the more plastic will be dumped in our environment. It’s critical that New Jersey takes steps to reduce their plastic and polystyrene waste. Microplastics have already been found near our drinking water supply, so we can literally be drinking plastic. Polystyrene is also a toxic problem because it contains carcinogenic chemicals,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.
The state legislature has one of the most comprehensive ban bills in the nation. S2776 (Smith) is a statewide ban on single use plastic bags, plastic straws, and polystyrene. The New Jersey Sierra Club would like Senator Smith’s bill to mirror California’s hybrid single use plastic ban by adding a 10-cent fee on paper and reusable bag and have a better enforcement mechanism in place.
“New Jersey has the most comprehensive bills in the country, but it is not going anywhere. We are disappointed that the Legislature has stalled their efforts in moving the bill forward and that Governor Murphy has been quite since he vetoed the bad feel bill. Plastics are a menace and an existential threat to our drinking water, beaches, and wildlife. By reducing how much plastic we use, we can also reduce fracking and fossil fuel use,” said Tittel. “We need our Assembly members and Senate to put S2776(Smith) before our plastic waste problem gets any worse. It’s good that Governor Murphy vetoed the bad fee bill but now we have a good bill plastic ban bill in the legislature that he needs to move forward.”
In New Jersey there are 18 towns, cities, and counties that have plastic bans and 3 towns that have plastic bag fees. Towns like Lambertville, Avalon, Belmar, Hoboken, Jersey City, Teaneck are all passing ordinances that would tackle New Jersey’s plastic waste problem.
“Towns are moving forward on plastic bans, but the state isn’t. From Cape May County all the way to Bergen County, New Jersey towns and cities have already taken steps to ban plastic because of how bad it is to our health and the environment’s health. Waterfront cities like Hoboken and Jersey City passed ordinances to ban single use plastics, Jersey City took a step further and banned polystyrene. Lambertville recently introduced an ordinance to ban plastic bags, Styrofoam, polystyrene, and single use plastic straws,” said Jeff Tittel. “Towns and cities need to keep passing plastic bans to put pressure on our state legislature for a statewide ban.”
Plastics can damage our waterways and ecosystems while increasing flooding in communities. Rutgers scientists recently found densities of about 28,000 to more than 3 million plastic particles per square kilometer in the Passaic and Raritan River. Beach sweeps in New Jersey found that beaches from Monmouth County down to Cape May County have micro plastics in the ocean and on the beach.
“Plastic is a serious public health and environmental risk and the New Jersey legislature needs to work together to clean it up. We must work together to remove plastic from the ecosystems, waterways and environment that have already been contaminated. Microplastic has been found near our water supply intakes by the Passaic and Raritan River. Polystyrene has even been found in breast milk,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “New Jersey needs to start looking into ways to combat this plastic pollution and a state-wide ban on these products is the best way to start. Governor Cuomo signed a plastic ban bill, it’s time for Governor Murphy to follow.”
published gloucestercitynews.net | May 2, 2019