TRENTON, NJ – Looking to protect New Jersey’s critically important environmental health, Assembly Democrats Nancy Pinkin, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Carol Murphy and Jim Kennedy sponsored two resolutions aimed at combatting the negative impact plastics have on our environment. The resolutions cleared the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee Thursday, of which Assemblywoman Pinkin is chair.

“Every year, 100 billion plastic bags and 25 billion Styrofoam plastic coffee cups are thrown out by Americans,” said Pinkin (D-Middlesex). “As international markets for recyclable materials have changed, a complicated and expensive effect has emerged for communities in New Jersey. These single-use plastics do not break down, and oftentimes end up in our waterways and oceans, causing harm to the residents of New Jersey, marine wildlife and the environment as a whole. It is incredibly important that we address these issues with a fiscally responsible solution that protects both our health and environment.”

The first resolution, (ACR-197), sponsored by Pinkin, Vainieri Huttle and Murphy, urges the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to utilize monies from the State Recycling Fund to conduct necessary research for the development of a plastics recycling marketplace in the State in order to increase the volume of single-use plastics being recycled and decrease the amount of these plastics from entering our natural environment.

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“There is evidence that microplastic pollution can move through natural food webs and accumulate in fin fish and shellfish tissues,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “In other words, these microplastics have the potential to make their way into the very food we put in our bodies. This is of critical importance and is something we should handle swiftly and definitively.”

In addition, the resolution urges the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to take steps to encourage and provide funding to establish a plastics recycling marketplace.

“Mismanaged single-use plastic waste may block drainage systems, release toxic fumes if burned, become land pollution and contaminate the food chain,” said Murphy (D-Burlington). “This can cause immense harm to our residents, showing that protecting our environment has everything to do with protecting our residents.”

The second resolution, (ACR-198), sponsored by Pinkin and Kennedy, urges all levels of government to take cooperative action, including providing funding and other resources, to remove plastic from New Jersey’s waters in order to decrease the amount of plastic entering into marine waters, and ultimately, human food chains.

“Global plastics production has increased from two million tons in 1950 to 381 million tons in 2015,” said Kennedy (D-Middlesex, Somerset, Union). “Preventing the destruction of our planet is of vital importance for every single being on this Earth, and cleaning up the mess we have made is the first step of saving our environment.”

According to the United Nations Environment Program, the more than eight million tons of plastics that end up in lakes and oceans each year is equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic every minute.

The resolutions now await further consideration from the Assembly.