Plastic bag bans have now been adopted by Jersey City’s and Hoboken’s councils, just as New Jersey prepares to stop municipalities from enacting local bans.
Both measures, which passed with unanimous support, would largely require retailers to provide only reusable and/or recyclable paper bags to customers. There are exemptions, including bags to wrap newspapers, dry cleaning items, frozen foods, meat and fish.
“It is an incredible problem in Jersey City and globally,” Jersey City Ward E Councilman James Solomon said on Wednesday. “I hope this is just sort of the first step.”
The Jersey City council adopted its ban on Wednesday, Hoboken’s council on June 20.
Hoboken’s bill specifies that retailers charge customers for the non-plastic bags (no more than 25 cents each for paper bags). They would be required to provide free paper or cloth bags to any customer using government assistance to purchase goods.
Hoboken’s ban will go into effect in six months, Jersey City’s in a year.
New Jersey’s bill imposes a five-cent tax on all single-use bags handed out at chain supermarket and retailers. It gives prohibits municipalities from enacting their own bag bans after Oct. 1.
Solomon mocked that provision on Wednesday, saying local officials should be able to issue their own regulations. State lawmakers, he said, “have enough trouble” governing New Jersey. The state is headed for a shutdown starting Sunday because of a budget impasse.
Environmental groups prefer outright bans to New Jersey’s tax-per-bag plan. The New Jersey Sierra Club applauded both Hudson County cities for their new laws.
“Pollution from plastic is a menace to our environment killing birds and sea mammals making our beaches and waterways look unsightly,” its director, Jeff Tittel, said in a statement. “Plastics bags and bottles not only pollute our oceans, rivers, and bays, clog storm drains, but harm our marine and aquatic environment.”