|BANNING POLYSTYRENE FOOD CONTAINERS IS BAD PUBLIC POLICY AND BAD FOR STRUGGLING BUSINESSES
|By Dennis Hart
TRENTON – (September 23, 2020) – Businesses in New Jersey are struggling to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic and take-out food containers have never been more important to businesses trying to manage their costs, while adhering to safety protocols. It is for these reasons, that I cannot understand why the New Jersey Legislature would take up this issue during this emergency and ban the one type of food container that is better for the environment, more cost effective and preserves the quality and safety of its food contents over and above the alternative products. In addition, A1978/S864 will ban all products within supermarkets that have any degree of polystyrene packaging, including some of your favorite items that you will have to shop for out of state or on-line to purchase.
The New Jersey Food Council estimates that up to 30% of items within a supermarket could be impacted by this legislation. I have heard from an egg producer that indicated that his company cannot afford to purchase new packaging equipment to package eggs just for New Jersey, so they will no longer sell their eggs in the Garden State. A1978/S864 is so far reaching that it will ban food trays for items like ground beef, chicken, and vegetables. New Jersey supermarkets that purchase prepackaged products, will now have to unwrap them and put the food on a different type of tray that complies with this legislation. This legislation will create more unwanted waste, since the polystyrene tray will have to be thrown out along with the wrapping and increase the chances of food contamination since it will require more food handling.
In testimony before the Committees considering this bill, I have provided documents detailing the following and no one provided any information to counter these reports:
For all of these reasons, I am asking that A1978/S864 be amended to charge the Plastics Commission created in the bill with analyzing all of these issues and report back to the Legislature in 18 months with recommendations on how the state should proceed and not ban any products unless recommended by the Plastics Commission.
Given the implementation dates in the legislation there is time to better inform the Legislature on this issue.
About the author: Dennis Hart is the executive director of the Chemistry Council of New Jersey. His career spans more than thirty-five years with most of it spent at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, where he started as an enforcement case manager in the Division of Water Resources, rising to the rank of assistant commissioner of Environmental Regulation, and later administrator of the New Jersey Water Supply Program. The Chemistry Council of New Jersey (CCNJ), founded in 1955, is the trade and advocacy organization representing the interests of more than 50 New Jersey manufacturers and 45 firms in the business of chemistry. Our membership consists of large and small companies that are part of New Jersey’s chemical, pharmaceutical, consumer packaged goods, petroleum, flavor & fragrances and precious metals industries. The New Jersey business of chemistry employs more than 44,000 workers and contributes $25B to New Jersey’s economy. CCNJ companies are also important in our fight to mitigate and prevent the spread of COVID-19, including the manufacturing of PPE, chlorine products, sanitizers, wipes and sprays, and research and production of therapeutics and vaccines. The CCNJ is committed to a better quality of life through science.
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