CHATHAM, NJ - The Borough of Chatham Council joined the regional effort to ban single-use plastic bags, unanimously introducing an ordinance that would ban plastic bags from retail establishments and tag on a 10 cent charge for replacement paper bags on Monday night at its regular meeting.
Madison reportedly introduced the same ordinance on Monday as well and the Chatham Township Committee is scheduled to consider the same measure at its meeting on Thursday.
The public hearing and adoption of the ordinance are set for Oct. 15. If adopted the measure would go into effect March 1, 2020.
"This is an important move we're making," Chatham Borough Council member Jocelyn Mathiasen said. "I would say this is sort of akin to the removal, for example, of lead from gasoline when I was a kid or lead from paint or other things where you didn't realize what the implications of a decision that was made by the market at the time it was made.
"We're only now beginning to realize what the implications are of plastic bags. The Great Swamp Watershed Association just had a report out on the microplastics they found locally in the water. To be honest, we just don't know what the health effects of plastics are. We're just getting a sense of that."
Chatham Borough Council member Jocelyn Mathiasen talks about the ordinance in the video below
Chatham High senior Naila Ismail spoke during the public portion of the meeting, telling how she spearheaded a recycling project and collecting 80,000 plastic bags over a six-month period for her Girl Scout Gold Award Project. She urged the council to move ahead with the plastic bag ban.
The ordinance, which is more than five pages long, says, in part, that "Effective March 1, 2020, no retail establishment shall provide any single-use plastic carryout bags."
There are a number of exceptions in the ordinance, which includes "take-out foods" for consumption away from the business establishment.
The ordinance also calls for a mandatory 10 cent fee for paper bags, also effective March 1. Retailers would receive the money from the 10-cent fee.
Violations of the ordinance will hit retail establishments with fines of $100 for the first violation after the first written warning notice is given. The second violation would carry a $200 fine and the third or any subsequent violation - $500.
"Fines shall be imposed for each day a violation occurs or is allowed to continue," the ordinance says.