New Jersey environmentalists say plastic bag fee not enough
- On Monday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy removed any mention of a 5-cent fee associated with single-use bags from the state budget via a line-item veto, reports NJ.com.
- Bill A3267/S2600 targets paper and plastic bags used at chain stores and large retailers. The projected $23 million that would have been generated from the fees was meant to go toward a lead-abatement fund under the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP). But further additions to the budget would have diverted those funds to other uses, sparking ire among environmental groups. They want the governor to either increase the fee or push for a total ban on plastic bags.
- The New Jersey Audubon and the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters want the fee to be 10 cents per bag. New Jersey Audubon spokesperson Sandra Meola told NJ.com, "While (the bag fee is) not the strongest policy structure, it's a great start for New Jersey." She added that the best case scenario would be for the proposal to lead to a plastic bag ban with continued fees for paper bags.
A bag-ban proposal was introduced in New York in late April by Governor Andrew Cuomo. This proposal came after a series of change-ups in how New York planned to deal with its plastic bags. The unresolved saga serves as an example of how plastic bag bans — while seemingly simple on the surface — can become mired in the political process with so many competing special-interest groups vying for their say in the matter.
Plastic bags remain a serious contamination factor at MRFs, often costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in added expenses to ensure proper separation from recyclable materials. Many municipalities and service providers have been reemphasizing the need to keep these bags out of curbside carts or bins in the wake of tighter market conditions.
Aside from California's statewide bag ban and a de facto ban across all Hawaii counties, no other state has successfully passed its own policy yet. While some municipalities have passed local measures to ban plastic bags, a recent state overruling in Texas signaled the ongoing presence of preemptive laws or policies to limit their ability to do so.
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