TRENTON — The New Jersey State Legislature Thursday approved a bill banning single-use plastic carryout bags and polystyrene foam food service containers, a move hailed by a coalition of environmental groups as enactment of “the strongest legislation in the country” to reduce single-use plastics.
The Assembly version of the measure, A1978, was approved 48-24 on Thursday, with seven members not voting. Later, the Senate bill, S864, was approved 26-12 with two members not voting.
The votes here immediately applauded by environmental groups.
“Thank you to all of the legislators who stood up for our oceans, waves and beaches today by voting for this anti-plastics bill,” said John Weber Mid Atlantic Regional Manager with the Surfrider Foundation.
Mr. Weber, who is also president of the Bradley Beach Borough Council, recalled the start of efforts to promote such legislation almost a decade ago.
“So many people worked so hard throughout this long journey,” he said, “but today’s vote made it all worth it.”
Gov. Phil Murphy has 45 days to sign the bill into law.
Under the bill, which goes into effect in the spring of 2022, plastic straws will still be available on-demand and phases-out paper bags at large grocery stores.
Cindy Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action, which holds beach sweeps throughout the state, said that “now … there will be less plastics in the ocean to cause harm and death to marine life.”
Amy Goldsmith, state director of Clean Water Action, said the legislation “has just set the international standard.”
The bill is a “big win in our battle against plastic pollution,” Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club said Thursday. “This bill will help protect our environment, our streams and rivers, as well as wildlife and public health. It will help defend us from microplastics that affect the environment and our drinking water.”
Save Barnegat Bay Executive Director Britta Forsberg-Wenzel said, ” Many of our shore towns have already been proactive in adopting local ordinances, and it is refreshing to see forward movement in Trenton on reducing single-use waste.”
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