A southern Ocean County municipality is the latest to adopt a plastic bag ban at the Jersey Shore.
The measure, passed unanimously by the Stafford Township Council on Tuesday, will go into effect on August 7. It seeks to reduce the usage of single-use plastics that impact the environment, including local waterways and the Atlantic Ocean.
All retailers within the township, situated along the Barnegat Bay and across from Long Beach Island, must cease offering carry-out plastic bags by December 6, according to the ordinance.
Paper and reusable bags are permitted. Like other New Jersey municipalities that have adopted similar prohibitions, the measure excludes plastic bags for other market items, such as meat, produce, cold cuts, and dry cleaners.
Stafford Township joins other Jersey Shore municipalities combating single-use plastic carryout bags.
Across the Route 72 Causeway in Long Beach Island, a plastic bag ban went into effect this spring. Longport adopted a measure in late 2015 that requires businesses charge a 10 cent fee for single-use plastic and paper bags.
And in February, Ventnor adopted a measure that assesses a five cent fee for paper and plastic single-use bags. It goes into effect in October.
Monmouth County’s Monmouth Beach adopted in May what environmental advocacy organization Clean Ocean Action calls the “most comprehensive” plastic ban in the country, prohibiting plastic bags, straws, and styrofoam containers.
Plastic bags consistently pop up as one of the most collected items in beach cleanups, according to Beth Kwart, chair of the South Jersey chapter of the nonprofit Surfrider Foundation.
In 2017, they represented the majority of the total waste found during Clean Ocean Action’s beach sweep events.
According to the Surfrider Foundation, an international environmental organization that has sparked a movement to encourage more bars and restaurants to use less plastic, more than 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic are floating in the world’s oceans.