PLAINFIELD, NJ — A number of municipalities have moved forward with measures regarding the use of plastic bags in the new year, as state legislation is pending either in the form of banning the single use bags or imposing fees on paper bags. Back in September 2018, a bill (S2776) was passed in the New Jersey Senate allowing for restrictions and fees, and later in December 2019, additional legislation was advanced to ban single-use plastic and paper bags, as well as plastic foam containers widely used in the restaurant industry.
Star Fish Food Pantry, a local food pantry, announced last year that they would be implementing a new type of compostable plastic “bio bag” for their food distribution system in anticipation of the pending legislation.
“We tried using several different types of brown paper bags, including some with cord-style handles,” said volunteer Michael Townley in a Star Fish press release. “Without the outer plastic bag as a support, the brown bags alone tended to tear, causing problems for the person making the delivery and the clients picking up the food at our partner agencies.”
TAPinto Plainfield reached out to PMUA to get an update on its stance on the proposed bill, and Director Eric Jackson provided this guidance:
To date, none of the communities we serve (including Plainfield) have a plastic bag ban ordinance. Moreover, the facility where PMUA presently disposes of its trash does not have a plastic bag ban. However, PMUA encourages residents when shopping to use reusable bags and to decline plastic bags. Residents should return already acquired plastic bags to the retailers where they were obtained or reuse them. Currently, PMUA’s recycling rules state that plastic bags may not be discarded inside blue recycling carts. Recyclables should, in fact, be placed loosely inside of the bins as plastic bags present a hazard to Material Recycling Facility (MRFs) sorting equipment. Conversely, residents are encouraged to discard plastic bags with regular trash in their black carts. You may refer to PMUA’s 2020 Disposal Rules Guide
In summary, the PMUA promotes actions that are environmentally friendly and behaviors that will help to preserve our ecosystem. It supports the idea of a personal reduction in plastic bag use. To advance this behavior, the Authority consistently issues reminders to get the public in the habit of using reusable bags and to keep them handy, like in one’s car, when shopping. We work each day in the hopes of achieving zero plastic bag waste in the near future.
Nearby in Westfield, a Green Medallion Program was rolled out in December 2019, encouraging local businesses to use reusable blue bags complete with the town’s logo. Businesses also encouraged customers to use less plastic bags, and restaurants offered paper takeout containers in lieu of the common Styrofoam containers.
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