New Jersey plastics ban could be one of the toughest in the nation

New Jersey rejected the idea of a 5-cent fee on plastic bags and now will consider an all-out ban. (Big Stock photo)

New Jersey rejected the idea of a 5-cent fee on plastic bags and now will consider an all-out ban. (Big Stock photo)

Plastic carryout bags, plastic straws, and Styrofoam containers would be banned in New Jersey if a measure advanced by the Senate Environment Committee is enacted.

New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said the measure targets three of the worst offenders of plastic pollution.

“This is the strongest and most comprehensive plastics legislation in the country right now,” he said, “This bill is a huge leap forward environmentally for the state and for this county because I believe if we pass this bill, other states will be looking the same way.”

Opponents worry about the economic impact.

Douglas Kellogg with the group Americans For Tax Reform said the legislation would make the state a more difficult place to live and run and business.

“Foam containers are relied upon by moderately priced restaurants with a high number of takeout orders,” said Kellogg. “Banning them will drive up costs for these business owners and reduce quality. Banning plastic bags means stores have to buy costlier bags and pass on that cost to customers.”

Dennis Hart with the Chemistry Council of New Jersey said banning Styrofoam containers would have a dramatic negative impact on businesses.

“The food service industry and restaurants are marginal business at best where small changes in costs can mean the difference between profitability or going out of business,” he said, “Not only are paper cups and cardboard food containers two to ten times more expensive, but they also do not give consumers the quality of the food that they demand.”

Mary Ellen Peppard with the New Jersey Food Council worries a ban on plastic straws would have unintended consequences.

“For example how would the juice boxes, Capri Sun, things like that, how would they be addressed? If the straws were banned, we would assume that those types of products for sale would also be banned,” said Peppard.

The ban would take effect one year after enactment of the legislation. A 10-cent fee on paper bags, that’s also included in the measure, would be delayed until a year later.

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