MILLBURN, NJ — A measure that has been debated by some towns in New Jersey is on its way to implementation in Millburn, while Newark has tabled the discussion.
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. Similar rollouts occured in Maplewood, which went plastic bag free starting last July, and South Orange, will starts its ban on Jan. 1.
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, including garment bags at dry cleaners and bags for bulk items such as fruit, vegeatbles and small hardware items.
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 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."
This comes as Newark City Council tabled an ordinance on Wednesday, Dec. 4, that would similarly prohibit plastic bag distribution by businesses in Newark.
The bill was previously deferred since August and it failed at a November council meeting. Council members, with the exception of LaMonica McIver, voted to table the bill.
McIver said she has been supportive of the ban since its introduction.
"I am a strong advocate of banning plastic bags and other materials that jeopardize our environment," McIver told TAPinto Newark. "We definitely need to consider this in Newark. Sometimes we shy away from it because it can be a hardship or educational struggle in our community."
Other council members previously suggested the legislative body wait until lawmakers in Trenton approve a statewide ban. McIver is hopeful the legislation will pass in the New Jersey Assembly soon.
The ordinance had set out to alleviate significant litter problems in Newark neighborhoods, parks and sewer systems, and to better protect the marine environment, advance solid waste reduction, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep waterways clean.
At a November city council meeting, Council President Mildred C. Crump said she could not support the measure because it did not include a plan of action for small businesses who she believed would be most impacted.
Other members said the bill did not go far enough to eliminate the use of other products such as straws and Styrofoam cups.