NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – The New Providence Borough Council addressed the issue of single-use plastic bag use during its meeting Monday night. Resident Allen Swanson encouraged the council to take action on the matter by conducting outreach with local businesses.
“In the past you’ve taken the position … that you would prefer to have the state act on a plastic ban,” Swanson said during the meeting. “You’re selling yourselves short, I think you’re selling the citizens short, I think you’re selling the businesses short by not bringing this issue to them and letting them provide input to you.”
“We are going to end up having a solution imposed, as opposed to developing a solution,” he said. “It would be great if we were a little more proactive in terms of lobbying for what’s going to work best for New Providence.”
A bill in the state Senate titled S 2776, if passed, would “[prohibit] carryout bags made of plastic film, polystyrene foam food service products, and single-use plastic straws [and assess] fee on paper carryout bags.” The bill remains under consideration in the state legislature.
Responding to Swanson’s comments, Mayor Al Morgan said the state will be addressing the plastic bag issue on their next agenda. He said he would prefer to see whether the state legislation passes before the borough takes any action.
“I don’t jump at things; I look at them [and] see where they’re going before I make a decision,” said Mayor Al Morgan. “I think the whole council is in agreement. We want to see where this goes.”
“There’s a lot of people on the other side of the coin too, and we represent everybody,” he said.
Council President Michael Gennaro explained the complexities of the issue and said there are many factors to consider.
“These issues are difficult for local councils to grapple with and deal with,” Gennaro said, “because it does take some understanding and some weighing of the issues back and forth in order to get to an intelligent decision.”
“It needs to be evaluated to make sure the right thing is done, not just the impulsive thing,” he added later.
In the meantime, the council’s sustainability committee is weighing potential options, said Councilman Peter DeSarno. “It’s something that’s definitely on the committee’s radar,” DeSarno said. “It’s not something we want to quickly rush into.”
This discussion comes as several nearby municipalities are moving forward with plastic bag bans. Both Chatham Township and Chatham Borough passed bans on single-use plastic bags that are set to take effect next year. Meanwhile, Millburn began the process of writing a plastic bag ordinance last month.