NJ politicians: Will they be heroes or zeros on banning plastic bags this week?

Monday, January 6, 2020

Trenton, NJ: Clean Water Action is making a last-ditch plea for the legislature to pass S2776 / A4330 to ban plastic and paper carryout bags, polystyrene takeout containers, and to offer straws by request before January 14th.  NJ’s top 3 elected officials all say they want to ban single use plastic bags but final votes are still needed. 

If over a million New Jerseyans can comply with plastic bag bans in over 50 towns and two large counties, there’s no reason why the Legislature and the Governor shouldn’t be able to agree on a statewide ban to combat the single-use plastic scourge now.

Statewide legislation has been languishing in the Senate and Assembly for years and the time for action is now. In New Jersey, over 4 billion single-use disposable bags are used annually which are clogging and polluting waterways, killing marine life, and fouling the food chain.

There has been much legislative action and agreement between the Governor, Senate President, and Assembly Speaker’s offices to ban plastic bags and polystyrene food containers. Impeding passage is quibbling over on how, when, and whether to include a paper bag ban. And there’s only one week left in lame duck.

“If they don’t pass this bill by January 15th, it will be as dead as the poor whale found on the beach in Scotland with over 200 pounds of plastic in its stomach,” said Janet Tauro, Clean Water Action, NJ Board Chair. “This is an environmental catastrophe demanding fast action."

“It would be lame and more than a shame if the Senate, Assembly and Governor’s office cannot agree on how to secure passage in lame duck,” said Amy Goldsmith, Clean Water Action NJ State Director. “They have had more than enough time and power to do it.”

The large number of videos and photos documenting plastic pollution worldwide has spurred the public to aide in a solution. Municipal and county governments, fed up with the logjam in Trenton, have been passing their own ordinances. But, such a piecemeal approach lacks uniformity and sows confusion.

“I’ll shop for groceries in one town where there is a ban and customers walk in with their reusable bags without a problem,” said Tauro. “But, if I go to the same chain in another town, the carts are loaded with plastic bags. You shouldn’t have to know a zip code to figure out whether to carry in reusable bags or not.”

“New Jersey is poised to become a national leader and wouldn’t that be refreshing,” said Goldsmith. “Whether we include paper in the phase out now or on slight delay, we are so very close. It would be an absolute shame not to put this to bed before this legislative session ends on January 14.”


Since our founding during the campaign to pass the landmark Clean Water Act in 1972, Clean Water Action has worked to win strong health and environmental protections by bringing issue expertise, solution-oriented thinking and people power to the table. We will protect clean water in the face of attacks from a polluter friendly Administration and Congress. Clean Water Action has nearly 1 million members nationwide. www.cleanwater.org/nj

Amy Goldsmith, State Director
Eric Benson