Princeton considers mandating fee on plastic shopping bags

The goal of New Jersey's proposed 5-cent fee on paper and plastic bags is to cut down on plastic that ends up as litter and clogs waterways. (AP file photo)

The goal of New Jersey's proposed 5-cent fee on paper and plastic bags is to cut down on plastic that ends up as litter and clogs waterways. (AP file photo)

Princeton is considering an ordinance requiring shoppers to pay 10 to 25 cents to use a plastic bag.

Because measures calling for a statewide bag fee have stalled in the legislature for years, it’s likely towns will have to act on their own, said Michael Cerra of the New Jersey League of Municipalities.

“There are activists at the local level who would probably turn to their local officials and ask them to do something identical or similar. If it’s successful, then it might be looked at at a statewide level,” Cerra said.

Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert said she would prefer to see a statewide fee rather than a local charge to avoid motivating shoppers to go to towns that don’t enact such a measure.

“Some of the downsides we’ve heard in terms of the impact potentially on individual businesses and giving customers in the next town over won’t be true if you’re doing it on a state level,” she said.

Environmentalists say plastic bags clog storm drains, take up landfill space, and get into the ocean where they kill sea mammals that swallow them.

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