The Assembly and Senate have passed a bill that will enact several restrictions on everyday products in an effort to curb plastic pollution that has inundated New Jersey’s beaches, riverfronts and water supplies. It will now go to Gov. Phil Murphy, who signaled support for a statewide plastics ban two years ago when he vetoed a bill that would have placed a fee on plastic bags.
More than 80% of litter picked up at annual beach cleanups from Cape May to Sandy Hook by volunteers for Clean Ocean Action has been plastic in recent years. Scientists have found microplastics in some of the most pristine rivers and creeks, including the upper Raritan and Passaic rivers.
Likewise, foam food products and containers like clam-shell takeout boxes would be banned in 18 months.
Restaurants would be permitted to provide a plastic straw to a customer upon request one year after the law is signed. What bags are exempt?
– Reusable plastic carryout bags with stitched handles that many supermarket chains sell at checkout lines for about $1.
– Bags used solely for uncooked meat, fish, or poultry
– Bags used solely for loose items such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, coffee, grains, baked goods, candy, greeting cards, flowers or small hardware
– Bags used solely to contain live animals, such as fish
– Bags used solely to contain food sliced or prepared to order, including soup or hot food
– A laundry, dry cleaning, or garment bag
– Bags carrying prescription drugs
– A newspaper bag
After a ban on foam containers takes effect, other products made from the same polystyrene material would have another two-year grace period before being banned. They are:
– Disposable, long-handled polystyrene foam spoons for thick drinks
– Small cups of two ounces or less used for hot foods
– Any food pre-packaged in polystyrene by the manufacturer, such as ramen noodles
The ban on plastic and papers bags would take effect 18 months after it is signed into law.
Any business violating the bill would get a warning on first offense, a fine up to $1,000 for a second offense and a fine of up to $5,000 for a third or subsequent offense.