An ordinance adopted late last year that prohibits Long Beach Township businesses from distributing single-use plastic carryout bags goes into effect on May 1.
The regulation prohibits commercial establishments from providing customers with the bags, calling the sale and use of plastic bags “a significant global problem.”
The township’s Board of Commissioners hopes that the measure will “further incentivize the use of reusable bags at businesses” to “ultimately protect the environment, wildlife, and the public health, welfare, and safety.”
Customers will still be able to pay a nominal fee for paper bags if they forget their own reusable bags. Produce, product, and garment bags along with those for raw meat and bait are exempt.
Long Beach Township joins other Jersey Shore municipalities combating single-use plastic carryout bags.
To the south in Longport, the municipality adopted a measure in late 2015 that requires businesses charge a 10 cent fee for single-use plastic and paper bags. 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.
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.
“This is a HUGE win for the environment and everyone involved since the beginning,” a spokesperson for the Surfrider Foundation’s Jersey Shore chapter wrote on Facebook after the Long Beach Township ordinance adoption. “Take notice of their victory and realize you can be heard when you use your voice.”
In response to the global plastic waste problem, some Shore restaurants have begun to shift toward more sustainable alternatives.
WHYY’s Joe Hernandez contributed to this report.