NEWARK, NJ - The City Council failed to adopt an ordinance on Monday that aims to ban the use of plastic bags by businesses in Newark, kicking consideration of the bill once again to December.
Some council members suggested the legislative body wait until lawmakers in Trenton decide whether to adopt such a ban statewide. Others believed the bill did not go far enough to eliminate the use of other products such as straws and styrofoam cups.
It was the latest struggle by the council to decide the fate of an ordinance that has been making its way through the legislative process since the summer.
Council members asked Mayor Ras Baraka’s administration to make additional adjustments to the measure before it is considered again at the December 4 meeting. Councilman Augusto Amador suggested delaying the bill until input from business owners, including those who operate small stores and large supermarkets, could be incorporated.
Council President Mildred C. Crump said she could not support the measure because it does not include a plan of action for small businesses who she believed would be most impacted.
“They’re the ones who are probably [going to] be more devastated,” Crump said. “It is absolutely environmentally irresponsible to ignore what the ordinance is about, but let’s not move in haste.”
Central Ward Councilwoman LaMonica McIver, who represents an area of the city’s downtown business district, said she supported the bill so long as concerns from small and big business owners were also heard. McIver said the bill was a good way to help Newark focus on the environment.
“Sometimes we try to throw that to the side because we’re an urban community and it’s not supposed to matter to us but it should," McIver said. "It does."
Council Member-At-Large Carlos Gonzalez said it would be “futile” for the city to pass such an ordinance because in the time it took the city’s bill to be implemented six months after passage, the state could pass its own New Jersey-wide measure.
Gonzalez also believes the bill does not go far enough. He wants to see other products such as straws and styrofoam cups included in such a ban.
Newark’s Corporation Counsel, Kenyatta Stewart, said the bill focused on only plastic bags in an attempt to gradually roll out such a ban so city residents were not hit with several bans at once.
The council previously delayed the bill until community meetings were held around the city to get input from residents on how it may impact businesses and shoppers.
“We have a mixed crowd for the most part,” Stewart said of residents’ response to the ordinance.