Plastics Bill Stopped – Assembly Failed to Act
Today the Assembly failed to vote on S2776 (Smith/Greeinstein) / S2776 (Pinkin). The legislation prohibits provision or sale of single-use plastic carryout bags, single-use paper carryout bags, and polystyrene foam food service products; limits provision of single-use plastic straws. The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 21-14 but was not voted on by the Assembly.
“The Assembly should have passed this ban today, but they didn’t. Their failure to act will mean that our plastic waste problem will continue to get worse. Plastics will continue to kill whales and get into our environment and into us. Microplastics have already been found near our drinking water supply, so we could literally be drinking plastic. Plastic bags have been known to clog storm drains and fill up detention basins, affecting our water quality. Animals, especially birds, get strangled and suffocated by plastic bags,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Unfortunately this bill was stopped by special interests, whether it was the paper lobbyists or the phony plastic bag lobbyists or the oil industry. Because the Assembly did not pass this legislation today we will have to start over to protect our environment and public health.”
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.
“The Senate did their job today, but the Assembly didn’t. This bill would have been a major step forward in dealing with single-use plastic bags as well as polystyrene and 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%. It is critical that we not only find the most effective solution to reduce our plastic waste but funding for those solutions, ” 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.”
The bill would prohibit the use of single-use plastic carryout bags and paper bags, the sale of polystyrene, and the offering of single-use plastic straws. In New Jersey, towns like Paramus, Bayonne, Lambertville, Avalon, Belmar, Hoboken, Jersey City, and Teaneck are all passing plastic bag ban ordinances. Jersey City will be the largest city in the state to implement a ban on single-use, disposable plastic bags. Atlantic County banned plastic bags for their parks too.
“Today, the Assembly failed the people of New Jersey by not passing this landmark legislation. Because of these setbacks, we will redouble our efforts to get this comprehensive plastic bag ban passed in the next session. 38 towns in New Jersey already have plastic bans in effect, 18 have passed ordinances that are not yet in effect, and dozens more are in the process. The towns are leading, now the Assembly must lead and ban plastics,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Plastics are a serious public health and environmental problem. Close to 100 towns have taken action, and we will get another 100 or 200 towns to pass bans. We will keep going until the legislature acts and passes a full statewide ban.”