TRENTON NJ--The plastic bag ban bill, S864 (Smith/Greenstein), will be up in the Senate Environment and Energy Committee on Thursday, January 30, 2020. The bill prohibits the provision or sale of single-use plastic carryout bags, single-use paper carryout bags, and polystyrene foam food service products. It also limits the provision of single-use plastic straws and appropriates moneys from the Clean Communities Program Fund for public education.
“Senator Smith is keeping his promise to help New Jersey ban plastics as soon as possible. When this bill failed to pass both houses at the end of the legislative session, Senator Smith said that this would be the first bill on his agenda and he is keeping that commitment. Without this legislation, plastics will continue to kill whales and get into our environment and into us. Microplastics have already been found near our drinking water supply, so we could literally be drinking plastic. Animals like fish and birds can ingest plastic, and plastic bags clog storm drains and fill up detention basins, affecting our water quality,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Unfortunately, this bill was stopped earlier this year when the Assembly did not vote on it. It is critical that our legislators push this bill through quickly before our plastic problem gets worse.”
This is the first bill in the country that would ban paper bags in addition to single-use plastic bags. So far, eight states have banned single-use plastic bags, including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon, and Vermont. In New Jersey, towns like Paramus, Bayonne, Lambertville, Avalon, Belmar, Hoboken, Jersey City, and Teaneck are all passing plastic bag ban ordinances.
“This is landmark legislation for New Jersey. This bill is a major step forward in dealing with single-use plastic bags as well as polystyrene and plastic straws. Polystyrene is dangerous to human health because it contains carcinogenic chemicals such as benzene and styrene, and it has been found in breast milk. It is harmful to the environment because it is not recyclable and does not degrade. Plastic straws pollute our oceans and beaches. Last year, New Jersey found that more than 80% of their trash is plastic and found an increase in plastic straw waste by 59%,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “By reducing how much plastic we use, we can also reduce fracking and fossil fuel use. Plastics are made from natural gas, which means more fossil fuel use, more pipelines, and more fracking.”