Plastics War Heats Up in New Jersey

The Garden State’s legislators are debating a bill that would eliminate plastic bags and straws, plus foam containers.
January 11, 2019

TRENTON – New Jersey is considering a ban on foam containers, plastic bags and plastic straws, reports. “No state of major city has taken on all three, so the stakes are high,” said John Weber, Mid-Atlantic manager of the Surfrider Foundation. “A lot of other states are taking note because it would be the most comprehensive plastics legislation in the country.”
Retailers and manufacturers are working on ways to tone down or jettison the bill, which—if passed—could inspire other states to enact similar restrictions. Already, more than 24 localities, including Jersey City, Hoboken, Bradley Beach and Point Pleasant, have plastic bag regulations designed to reduce the usage.
In September, convenience and grocery stores, as well as plastics makers, attended a hearing on the bill to voice their opposition. The state’s proposal “goes way further than anything any state or municipality has done,” said Matt Seaholm, executive director of the American Progressive Bag Alliance. Defeating the measure tops the group’s nationwide agenda.
“Our focus is working with legislator to help them understand the unintended consequences of anything they might do,” Seaholm said. “I would argue that the bill is trying to take a sledgehammer to a mosquito.”
Currently, the proposal hasn’t progressed in the state Senate since its approval by the environmental committee in the fall. Boston recently enacted a ban on plastic bags, while Memphis, Tenn., is considering taxing plastic bags. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom announced plans to ban plastic straws. In California, kids’ meals cannot automatically come with plastic straws.