Assembly Appropriations Committee Passes Strongest National Ban on Single Use Plastics; Next Step is an Assembly Floor Vote
Environment New Jersey
Trenton – Today, the New Jersey Assembly Appropriations Committee passed A1978 with a bipartisan vote of 7-3-1 which will be the strongest single-use plastics ban in the nation by banning single-use plastic bags and polystyrene, restricts straws to on demand only and phase out paper bags at larger grocery stores. The bill was amended to mirror the Senate version of the bill (S864) which passed the State Senate in early March. If the legislation is passed and signed into law, it would be implemented on an 18-month timeline.
The New York Legislature recently passed a ban on most expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam products as part of its FY21 budget package this April. New York will join Maine, Vermont, and Maryland, which all have their own forms of EPS bans in place. The statewide EPS ban will take effect by January 2022. New York City already has an EPS ban in place — following a lengthy legal battle.
Polystyrene is flimsy. The smaller it gets, the more difficult it is to cleanup from neighborhood streets, parks, and beaches. According to Clean Ocean Action’s Beach Sweeps report, 24,776 pieces of polystyrene foam were collected off of New Jersey’s beaches. NY/NJ Baykeeper executed a research study to quantify and classify plastic particles within NY-NJ Harbor waters. Based on the sample collection, at least 165 million plastic particles are floating in Harbor waters with the most abundant type of plastic being polystyrene foam at 40 percent. Not too surprisingly, since once in our waterways, polystyrene quickly breaks up into tiny pieces and is mistaken by fish for food.
Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey, issued the following statement:
“The most effective strategy for New Jersey’s environment is to ban single-use plastic bags and polystyrene to ensure we’re prioritizing our wildlife and our communities over waste. Plastic and polystyrene items we use for 15 minutes should not end up in our environment and communities for endless generations. Polystyrene cannot be cost-effectively recycled on a mass scale. We urge the State Assembly to move forward and pass this legislation.”
 Clean Ocean Action’s 2014 Beach Sweeps Report, http://cleanoceanaction.org/fileadmin/editor_group2/Education/AnnualReport2014.pdf
 Ingested Microscopic Plastic Translocates to the Circulatory System of the Mussel, http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es800249a?journalCode=esthag&
 NYC Can’t Recycle Polystyrene Foam, Natural Resource Defense Council, https://www.nrdc.org/experts/eric-goldstein/nyc-cant-recycle-polystyrene-foam-food-containers-ban-only-sensible-solution