HACKENSACK, NJ — Will the City of Hackensack be the next northern New Jersey town to ban single-use plastic carry out bags from retail establishments?
The recent burgeoning trend among neighboring municipalities like Paramus and Glen Rock, among a slew of other towns across the Garden State and the country whose governing bodies passed ordinances banning the bags in all retail stores, is prompting the City of Hackensack to consider the same.
“I’m not here to sway people, but that trend is on track to be approved in all municipalities and certainly in the state of New Jersey,” said City Manager Ted M. Ehrenburg. “Mother Earth deserves better and we need to give it to her. Anyone who has ever been in a landfill knows plastic bags are just all over the place.”
The ban is part of a growing national movement to reduce the plastic footprint in the environment. Neighboring Paramus passed an ordinance banning single-use plastic carry out bags in all its retail establishments in addition to the use of polystyrene foam, which went into effect on January 1. Per legislative findings outlined in the 12-page ordinance, 4 billion single-use shopping bags are used annually in the Garden State and carry adverse affects on marline life given micro-plastic pollution in oceans, which can enter the human food chain.
As a result of the ordinance, customers at grocery stores such as Stop And Shop are being asked to bring their own reusable cloth bags, buy two for $1, or pack them in reusable brown paper bags. Paramus' new law also mandates that food vendors wrap and package food in degradable packaging in lieu of polystyrene foam. According to the ordinance Paramus officials passed in late December, polystyrene foam contains styrene, a known neurotoxin and suspected carcinogen which, from the disposable food service ware and packaging, get into food and drink, potentially threatening human health. Presently, it occupies nearly 30 percent of landfill space in America and 38 percent of all plastic pollution in the Hackensack River.
While Mayor John Labrosse said he was leaning in favor of the ban given the fact that plastic bags aren’t properly disposed of, heavier reliance on paper bags, he said, is “counterproductive.”
“If we can recycle every plastic bag we picked up there would be no issue,” said Labrosse Tuesday night. “The problem is, we find them all over the place. So we’re resorting to a ban.”
He continued, “The issue I’m concerned about is takeout restaurants using more paper bags to kill more trees. So I’m concerned about that. I think it’s a double-edged sword.”
As to whether the city council will jump on the bandwagon with other municipalities to ban single-use plastic carry out bags in Hackensack?
"We'll see where it goes," said Labrosse.