Paper or plastic? In New Jersey, do not try any.
The state legislature on Thursday voted New Jersey the first in the country to ban disposable paper bags in supermarkets along with all disposable plastic bags in stores and restaurants.
Eight other states, such as California, New York and Vermont, have banned disposable plastic bags, either now in force or scheduled to take effect. in the coming years.
But by banning both plastic and disposable paper bags, as well as food containers and disposable polystyrene foam cups, environmentalists said the New Jersey bill is one of the strictest in the United States.
“This bill is perhaps the strongest, most comprehensive bill in the nation dealing with plastics and packaging,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, who helped lead the ban campaign. “It will go a long way in our fight against plastic pollution.”
Opponents of the bill have argued that it could hurt businesses and that the ban should be limited to plastic bags, as many see paper bags as an environmentally friendly alternative.
But Mr Tittel said banning paper bags would push New Jersey people to use bags made from recycled or other sustainable materials.
Heidi Brock, president and CEO of the American Forest and Paper Association, which represents companies owned by the paper industry, said she hoped the governor would block the ban on paper bags.
“The New Jersey legislature has undermined an environmentally responsible choice for consumers,” he said in a statement Thursday. “In addition, the ban on paper bags sends a worrying message to the devaluation of family wages, which is often union work, in addition to the indirect jobs supported by the paper and wood products industry in the state.”
The ban will begin 18 months after the bill enters into force. A spokesman for Governor Philip D. Murphy said Thursday that Mr Murphy intends to sign the bill.
“The governor is proud to support the strongest bag ban in the nation,” said spokesman Maen Gunaratna. “This bill will significantly reduce the damage these products cause to our environment.”
Both plastic and disposable paper bags have environmental costs that have attracted scrutiny from environmentalists and legislators in recent years.
Plastic bags, which can take centuries to decompose, represent about 12 percent of all plastic waste in America. Paper bags usually require more energy and greenhouse gas emissions to produce.
States and cities have adopted a patchwork of different bag-using policies. Some, like New York State, have focused distribution ban from plastic bags, which have long been associated with waste and pollution.
States have also adopted less restrictive measures to prevent people from using paper bags. In California, for example, stores must charge at least 10 cents for recycled paper bags.
Many of the restrictions, in California and elsewhere, have been suspended during the pandemic.
The ban on the New York plastic bag will take effect on March 1. However, a lawsuit challenging the ban delayed its implementation. Last week, said state officials the ban will take effect on October 19.
Several states, including Florida, have moved in the opposite direction, passing laws that impede local governments’ ability to ban plastic bags. The plastics industry is too using the pandemic to argue that disposable plastic bags are safer than reusable bags.
In fact, some businesses in New Jersey and elsewhere have stopped allowing customers to use their own bags during the epidemic.
The New Jersey bill states that the ban on plastic and paper bags does not apply to other pockets used exclusively for packing meat or fish, laundry bags or newspaper bags.
The bill attracted the support of the New Jersey Food Council, an industry group representing retailers and food suppliers, which argued that navigating different policies about which bags could be used in different municipalities across the state was burdensome for them. retailers.
“The ban on paper bags is extremely important. “They have as significant an environmental impact as plastic bags,” said Linda Doherty, chairman and CEO of the board. “Without this ban, consumers would have simply moved to disposable paper bags, failing to achieve the underlying goal of reducing our dependence on disposable products.”
Other industrial groups have opposed the ban.
Dennis Hart, executive director of the New Jersey Chemistry Council, said lawmakers rushed to pass the bill without carefully considering the relative benefits of polystyrene products compared to alternatives. He said the ban would hit manufacturers and other businesses in New Jersey.
“New Jersey restaurants, God knows how many of them will survive the pandemic,” he said. “Even if they do, they will be in bad financial shape for a long time. All this account is going to do is add more cost to a lower quality product. “