MILLBURN, NJ — A measure that has been debated by some towns in New Jersey and passed and passed by others is on its way to implementation in Millburn.
At Tuesday's Millburn Township Committee meeting, the committee members approved ordinance 2547-19, which will prohibit the use of single-use carryout bags and polystyrene containers at retail establishments in town. Additionally, the measure will look to reduce the number of single-use plastic straws throughout the township.
With its passage, the ordinance will be added to the "Environmental Regulations" section of the Millburn Township ordinances as section 18-2.
While it was passed, it will not go into full effect immediately, as a six-month rollout period will be implemented to help get residents and businesses in town up to speed on the new measure.
Other municipalities in New Jersey have passed such ban including the Chatham Borough Council, while larger cities like Newark have tabled such ordinances for the time being.
For Rene Paparian, who worked on the ordinance with fellow Millburn Green Team member Ellen Ingber, the passage of her hard work was major. Paparian was present at the township meeting and spoke with TAPinto after the ordinance was passed.
"It is extremely symbolic of Millburn truly grasping the importance and the significance of sustainable habits," Paparian said. "To adopt sustainable habits and to think about what they can do to adopt a sustainable lifestyle, it's incredibly important. The state will come along at some point, but we definitely got there first, and we should be very proud of ourselves."
Paparian also noted that in the aftermath of the ordinance's passage, the environmental commission and the green team would both be available to educate residents on the ins and outs of the new ordinance.
The ordinance reads that in lieu of single use plastic bags, compliant bags will be provided to customers at retail establishments for a small fee, with the hope that customers will begin bringing their own reusable bags to stores. There are several exemptions to the list, which includes the following;
- Bags for package bulk items, such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, candies or small hardware items
- Bags that contain or wrap frozen and non-frozen foods, meat or fish, wether packaged or not
- Bags that contain or wrap flowers, potted plants or other items where dampness may be an issue
- Bags that contain unwrapped prepared foods or bakery goods
- Pharmacy prescription bags
- Garment bags that contain articles of clothing (i.e. at the dry cleaners for shirts and suits.)
As previously covered, exemptions were carved out by the green team and the township committee at the behest of local business owners, who were consulted on the ordinance during the process.
In addition, also says that single-use plastic straws may only be given out to restaurant patrons by request. Any penalties for violations of this portion of the ordinance will be enforced by the Millburn Town Code Enforcement officer or the Health Officer, or one of their designees as noted by the ordinance.
Speaking on the passage of the ordinance, Millburn Mayor Diane Thall-Eglow said that in the estimation of the township committee, the six-month rollout was the right amount of time. She noted that one municipality had given a three-month rollout period, which she felt did not leave enough time for education on the subject.
Additionally, Thall-Eglow spoke about what it meant for Millburn to pass this ordinance before Trenton made it a state-wide decree.
"It wasn't only about being a trailblazer," Thall-Eglow said. "It was about if Trenton doesn't pass, that we would have been left with nothing. That's why it was so important to get this done before the year ended.
"We're hoping Trenton's going to do it, but there's a lot more people in Trenton that have to make that big decision, and it affects a lot more people. So we're really proud of our environmental commission, our green team and our Millburn Township Committee."