MILLBURN, NJ — Starting June 12, Millburn Township will enact a new set of regulations around single-use plastic bags, polystyrene containers and other plastic items at restaurants and businesses in town.
As previously reported by TAPinto Millburn/Short Hills, the measure was passed at a meeting this past December. In the interim, the township and environmental commission have worked to bring residents up to speed on what the ins and outs of the new ordinance entail.
Some of the key points of the new ordinance are as follows:
- Single-use plastic carryout bags are banned in ALL retail establishments
- Polystyrene carryout containers are banned in ALL retail establishments
- Single-use straws are available only upon request
- Paper bags may be offered to customers for a fee of five-cents per bag
- Reusable bags may be offered to customers for a fee of at least ten-cents per bag
- Customers may bring their own bags, of ANY type, with them to carry out their purchases
- Retailers must keep the bag fees
- The only plastic bags and polystyrene containers banned by this Ordinance are those used to carry out purchases
In addition, the township has also created an FAQ page, with information for residents and business owners. the link can be found by clicking here.
In advance of the ordinance taking effect, TAPinto spoke with Millburn Mayor Jackie Lieberberg and Millburn Environmental Commission Chair Priya Patel to get their thoughts on the upcoming implementation.
“I think with each meeting and certainly with each opportunity, we have communicated to residents that this will be enforced, this will be enacted on June 12," Lieberberg said. "It’s my understanding that some municipalities have chosen to delay this, but Millburn has chosen to move forward."
Lieberberg explained that from her point of view, moving forward with the ordinance now is the correct thing to do, as it will allow businesses time to ease into the new requirements while customers are away.
"I’m very excited that there’s township committee support and residential support to move forward,” Lieberberg added.
For Patel, the passage of the ordinance speaks to the environmentally-friendly nature of the township and its residents.
“I think that it’s reflective of the community and the local leadership," she said. "We’re not so advanced in terms of-there’s many other municipalities that have adopted single use plastic bag ordinances well ahead of us."
She noted that while the plastic bag portion of the ordinance is nothing new, the commitment to eliminating polystyrene is what makes Millburn's ordinance differ from others.
"I think the [polystyrene] sets us apart, and I think it’s just reflective of the fact that people understand that these takeout containers don’t go anywhere," Patel said. "They can’t go into the waste stream and our public works is not able to collect them either.
"We collect [polystyrene], but it can only be the kind that’s used in packing material. They can not collect used takeout [polystyrene] So everyone understands that this is a waste product in the truest sense of the word. So they want it out of the waste stream, and they understand that it’s not healthy to have going into our waterways […] Many people felt like this was kind of a no-brainer.”
As for what the eventual hope is regarding the ordinance, Lieberberg said that she hoped it would eventually become something that Millburn residents learn to integrate into their daily lives.
“As we enter into the summer season, I am just hoping that this ordinance will be the impetus for residents to be much more environmentally friendly, and much more aware of our surroundings, and it’s an opportunity for us to make green choices," Lieberberg said. "We just hope that this becomes second nature, the way it is for Europeans and other countries. That people will just continue to get into the habit and routine, so this becomes second nature.”
One way Millburn is working to reduce plastic waste is with reusable bags. They can be acquired at the farmer's market next month. TAPinto will continue to follow this story.