Bills Up in Assembly Environment Committee Monday

Bills Up in Assembly Environment Committee Monday:

The following pieces of legislation are up in the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee on Monday, December 9th.

A4330 (Pinkin): Prohibits use of plastic carryout bags, expanded polystyrene, and single-use plastic straws. The bill would prohibit the use of single-use plastic carryout bags in stores and food service businesses, and would ban food service businesses from offering single-use plastic straws. It would also ban the sale of polystyrene and would prohibit food service businesses from selling or providing food packaged in polystyrene containers.

“This bill is a major step forward in dealing with plastics and plastic pollution. Plastics are a menace and an existential threat to our drinking water, beaches, and wildlife. Microplastics have already been found near our drinking water supply, so we could literally be drinking plastic. Animals like fish and birds can ingest plastic, and plastic bags have been known to clog storm drains and fill up detention basins, affecting our water quality,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This bill is important because it will ban single-use plastic bags and polystyrene containers. It also should not allow fake reusable bags. It will also allow paper bags during the transition before phasing them out slowly.”

The bill would prohibit the use of single-use plastic carryout bags and paper bags in stores and food service businesses, and would ban food service businesses from offering single-use plastic straws. It would also ban the sale of polystyrene and would prohibit food service businesses from selling or providing food packaged in polystyrene containers.

“We need this legislation because it not only bans plastic bags, but also polystyrene and the offering of plastic straws. Polystyrene is dangerous to human health because it contains carcinogenic chemicals such as benzene and styrene, and it has been found in breast milk. It is harmful to the environment because it is not recyclable and does not degrade. Plastic straws pollute our oceans and beaches. Last year, New Jersey found that more than 80% of their trash is plastic and found an increase in plastic straw waste by 59%,” said Tittel. “By reducing how much plastic we use, we can also reduce fracking and fossil fuel use. Plastics are made from natural gas, which means more fossil fuel use, more pipelines, and more fracking.”

A4267 (McKeon): Concerns regulations of solid waste, hazardous waste, and soil and debris recycling industries.

“This bill is important because it addresses New Jersey’s ongoing problems with illegal dumping of contaminated materials. The Special Commission of Investigation’s first “Dirty Dirt” report in 2016 exposed the rampant problem of soil brokers and dirty dirt. Since that report the illegal dumping is still happening, risking the environment and public health. That’s because there hasn’t been any action by DEP and the Legislature to stop it. The industry has ties to the mob, and there are serious pollution and health impacts,” said Tittel.

In June, the Special Commission of Investigation released their latest “Dirty Dirt” report detailing illegal dumping in Marlboro. SCI reported that New Jersey currently “lacks the authority to properly oversee elements of its recycling program”. This bill would help tighten regulations by expanding the requirement for background checks to a broader range of persons involved in the solid waste industry, such as sales persons, consultants, and brokers. But the overriding problem continues to be DEP’s lack of enforcement.

“The Assembly bill is an important step forward; however, we need to go further. New Jersey needs tighter regulations and restrictions on how our waste is handled. We have a long history of contaminated materials coming into our state, in part because DEP chooses not to regulate these chemicals. DEP needs to set and enforce standards for toxic materials to prevent any more possible dumping,” said Jeff Tittel. “The Assembly needs to act quickly and get this bill to the governor’s desk before the end of the year.”

A5583 (Pinkin): Prohibits sale, lease, rent or installation of certain equipment products containing hydroflourocarbons or other greenhouse gases.

“This bill is step in the right direction when it comes to reducing GHG’s from the products we use every day. Hydrofluorocarbons represent around 1% of total greenhouse gases but their impact on global warming can be hundreds to thousands of times greater than that of carbon dioxide. They can be found in cooling products like refrigerators, air conditioning for our homes and cars, aerosols, and more,” said Jeff Tittel. “It is important that we prohibit and phase out all products containing HCF’s and greenhouse gases so that we can mitigate our impact to global warming.”

A5681 (Pinkin): Establishes task force to study recycling streams in NJ and challenges faced by local governments in running recycling programs.

“Given the serious problems with recycling in New Jersey, we need to change everything we do when it comes to solid waste. We need to first reduce, reuse, repurpose and then recycle. Our recycling and solid waste programs are decades out of date. Some towns are moving to single-stream recycling, which means more waste gets collected but results in a dirtier product. Establishing a recycling task force will help streamline New Jersey’s recycling,” said Jeff Tittel. “We also need legislation to reduce plastic wastes and solids. The less we recycle, the more greenhouse gases and pollution we have from emissions from landfills and new product manufacturing.”

A5682 (Pinkin): Establishes Recycling Market Development Council. The Council would look at existing recycling markets and recommend ways to stimulate recycling and how to reduce contamination of collected recyclables.

“We’re seeing a major drop in recycling in New Jersey. In the early 1990’s, we recycled over half of municipal and household waste. Now we are down to 37%. China’s decision to no longer import plastic waste has caused the recycling market to collapse. Some towns are no longer taking plastics. Recycling facilities are closing, or opening only once or twice a month. This bill says that New Jersey needs to develop new recycling markets. Rutgers has invented the first plastic lumber that uses recycled plastics, and more innovation needs to encouraged,” said Tittel. “We need to focus on coming up with more markets for recycling, and establishing a Recycling Market Development Council is a step in the right direction.”

A5854 (Pintor Marin): Allows municipalities to adopt an ordinance to enter properties to perform lead service line replacements.

“This legislation will help us replace lead service lines. This legislation is needed because lead in drinking water has become an ongoing issue in New Jersey. In order to find out if people are being exposed to lead or to get rid of existing lead service lines, you need to have access to the properties. Many times, landlords or property owners will not allow access to municipalities to check for lead,” said Jeff Tittel. “Our water is at risk and we need to be able to replace old lead pipes. This legislation will help municipalities protect residents from being exposed to lead in their water.”

A6014 (Vainieri Huttle/Pinkin): Establishes NJ Climate Change Resource Center at Rutgers University, appropriates $2 million.

“Establishing a Climate Change Resource Center is a good step forward when it comes to being prepared and stronger than the next storm. Climate impacts are getting worse. A recent study found that much of New Jersey, including inland counties, are more vulnerable to climate impacts now than before Sandy. We must start taking real actions to fight climate change now. We are in a climate crisis, and New Jersey is the only state on the east coast that does not have any kind of sea level rise climate adaptation plan,” said Jeff Tittel. “This Resource Center will help use the latest science to put climate and sea level rise in DEP rules and state legislation. DEP also need to update our adaptation for sea level mitigation program, our shore protection plan, and fix CAFRA loopholes.”

A4020 (Mazzeo): Changes title of DEP “conservation officer” to “Conservation police officer”.

“We feel that this title change is incorrect and unnecessary,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

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