(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats L. Grace Spencer, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, and Timothy Eustace to discourage the use of single-use carryout plastic bags was approved on Thursday by an Assembly panel.
"Plastic bags are a source of numerous environmental concerns," said Spencer (D-Essex). "These bags wash up in our waterways, are hazardous to marine life and even pollute the air when burned at landfills. With this legislation, we can encourage more stores to make environmentally responsible choices when it comes to shopping bags."
The bill (A-3671) would require each operator of a store to impose a $0.05 fee for each single-use carryout bag that is provided to the customer. Store operators would retain $0.01 of the fee collected, and pay the remaining $0.04 to the Director of the Division of Taxation. The director could use up to one percent of the revenues collected to defray the cost of administration of the bill. The remaining revenue collected would be used to create the "Healthy Schools and Community Lead Abatement Fund."
"Most stores have made the change and now provide more environmentally friendly bags for customers," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "This bill encourages more stores to get on board and move away from using the bags that are harmful to the environment."
"In the height of climate change and other environmental concerns, it is time we do more to protect the environment," said Eustace (D-Bergen, Passaic). "There are many more eco-friendly options available to stores who choose to provide plastic bags for their customers. This bill will encourage more stores to go green."
Customers 65 years or older, or those enrolled as a participant in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), or the Work First New Jersey program would be exempt from paying the fee. The bill was released by the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee.
Single-use carryout bag is defined in the bill as any bag that is not a reusable carryout bag and would include single-use compostable and non-compostable plastic bags and paper bags.
The bill was released by the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee, of which Spencer is the chair.