Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Will NJ ban grocery plastic bags, tax them, or do nothing?

One piece of legislation would phase out plastic bags entirely, while another would charge consumers a nickel — with the money going toward lead abatement

plastic bags
Tom Johnson reports for
NJ Spotlight:

California did it four years ago. Hawaii has a de facto ban. And last month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags by next year.
Will New Jersey follow suit? At least one legislator thinks it should. Assemblyman John McKeon, an environmental advocate from Essex County, introduced a bill (A-4040) last week proposing a ban to phase out noncombustible plastic carry-out bags three years after enactment.
It is no small problem. Each year, Americans use 380 billion plastic bags, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Last year, in a beach cleanup by Clean Ocean Action, more than 80 percent of the haul was some kind of plastic. Some towns along the Jersey Shore are already banning plastic bags or imposing fees on their use.
“The ecological damage being done by the bags that we all use just bares the irresponsibility of all of us,’’ McKeon said of the source of litter that fills landfills, despoils waterways, and threatens marine life.
The idea of a ban is backed by many environmentalists, but so far only two states have prohibited the use of plastic bags — although several major cities have adopted bans, including San Francisco, Seattle, and Boston. McKeon’s latest bill is an updated version of a measure that has been kicking around the Legislature for years.
In New Jersey, the debate over an outright ban on plastic bags may come down to whether a better approach might be to impose a 5-cent fee on single-use carry out bags as proposed by a bill (A-3267) sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle (D-Bergen).
That bill is backed by the New Jersey Food Council, which views it as a sound approach to dealing with the issue, according to Linda Doherty, its president.

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