Friday, February 8, 2008

Two New Jersey Congressmen Propose a Ban on Plastic Bags

It's not too often that my home state of New Jersey is ahead of the curve on environmental issues - or any other issues. But when it comes to reducing the harm that plastic bags cause, the legislature is trying to be the first to put a statewide ban on the use of plastic bags in many retail stores.

I checked out the details of bill A-4555, and here they are as I understand them (keep in mind I do not have a brilliant political mind):

There are two main parts to the bill. The first is a recycling plan. Retail stores with over 10,000 square feet of space would need to provide recycling bins for collecting plastic bags. They would also need to have reusable bags available to sell to their customers if needed. In addition, any plastic bags that were used would need to have the words "Please return this plastic bag to a participating store for recycling."

The second part of the bill requires that the stores with over 10,000 square feet of space reduce their use of plastic bags by 50% by the end of 2009 and stop using them completely by the end of 2010. 

The co-sponsers of the bill, Assemblymen Herb Conaway, M.D. and Jack Conners site the long-term environmental consequences of plastic bags as the reason for the proposed bill. 

I will be contacting them, as well as my local representatives, in support of the bill. I know that the large retail companies will try to fight this. Once plastic bags are eliminated, the retailers will need to provide some sort of bag for those who choose not to carry reusable bags, and that means they will need to provide paper bags which are more costly than plastic. 

So, if you are from New Jersey I urge you to contact your state representatives and give your support for this bill. And talk up reusable bags with all of your friends. 

I love my reusable grocery bags that come from Wegmans. They are durable and hold much more than a plastic bag. Carrying in the groceries from the car takes less trips now. The bags only cost 99 cents each, and I use them for so much more than just groceries. 

If you want to check out the press release from the Congressmen, it can be viewed here.

If you want to look even further into the specifics, the entire bill can be viewed here.
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Patrick Roberts said...

the ironic thing here is that plastic bags are probably the most re-used forms of garbage there is. Here’s what the ban on plastic bags means in real life: the average, bill-paying citizen will have to spend more time, money and energy carrying his/her groceries home while big oil companies continue to sell more oil than ever (in the form of gas) at whatever inflated price tickles their fancy.

Banning the use of plastic bags is an environmental red-herring. so what’s worse, throwing away oil in the form of plastic bags, or pouring oil into the atmosphere in the form of car exhaust? if there’s one thing oil is good for, it’s for making plastic.

Robin Shreeves said...

Patrick -

Lots of people do re-use their plastic bags, but many, many more just stick them in the trash. They are a detriment to the environment and a blight on the landscape.

I'm not sure why you think that people will have to spend more time, money and energy carrying their groceries. The reusable grocery bags are a very small investment -under $10 can buy enough for a full week's worth of groceries, but it's still money so I can get the more money part. But they hold so much more than the plastic bags and I now make fewer trips from car to kitchen carrying in my bags. I don't see how anyone would spend more time or energy carrying their packages.

For those who don't have reusable bags, the stores will still have paper bags to offer.

Will this solve the other oil problems we have? Of course, not. But I see them as two separate problems to conquer. The plastic bag problem is certainly an easier problem to solve, so let's solve it.

Thanks for your comments. They're always welcome.