FAIR LAWN, NJ - The Borough Council introduced an ordinance to ban single-use plastics, including bags, as of September 1. A public hearing and possible passage of the ordinance will be held on March 24 at 7:30 pm.

On February 25, the Council introduced the ordinance it has been discussing in work sessions for months.

"We spent an extraordinary amount of time debating this ordinance at work sessions," Deputy Mayor Josh Reinitz said. "This is a necessary change."

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The ordinance prohibits "single-use plastic bags," which are defined as "any bag derived from either petroleum or a biologically-based source, such as corn or other plant sources, that is provided by a retail vendor to a customer at the point of sale."

Retailers will provide compliant bags, which are paper bags, at the point of sale for a fee of 10 cents per bag, Businesses who occupy less than 4,500 square feet of space are not required to charge the fee.

Customers are encouraged to use their own bags, of any type. 

Exempt bags include the following: bags without handles to carry produce, meats, dry goods, bagels and bakery goods, or other non-prepackaged food items. Other exempt bags include pet poop bags, those that hold prescriptions, laundry or dry-cleaning and newspapers; plus food storage, yard waste and garbage bags.

The Borough, itself, is encouraged through the ordinance to use recyclables at all borough-sponsored events and for its own purposes, but is not required to do so.

The ordinance is enforceable through the borough manager, or his designee, and after an initial warning, vendors could pay from $50 for a first offense to $1,000 for a fourth offense and beyond.

Resident Pamela Coles said she "whole-heartedly agrees something needs to be done," but said trading plastics for paper bags may not be the answer. "Is this really moving things forward?"

Mayor Kurt Peluso said he has shopped in Glen Rock to see how people have been adjusting, since Glen Rock's single-use plastic bag ban took effect on January 1.

"The state is going this way, we're getting ahead of it," Peluso said.

New York state has instituted a single-use plastic bag ban, effective March 1, but so far, New Jersey lawmakers have been unable to get the idea out of the legislature.