Governor Murphy Commits to Veto Bag Bill, Leading the Way for a Better Solution on Plastics

Friday, August 24, 2018
NJ_Rethink Disposable_Plastic_Bag Hearing_Photo by Amy Goldsmith

Toms River, NJ: Governor Phil Murphy has committed to veto a bill (S2600/A3267) passed by the NJ legislature in June that would put a 5-cent fee on single-use plastic and paper bags, according to Senate Environment Committee Chairman Bob Smith, D-Piscataway. This bill would have prevented municipalities from passing stronger local ordinances in the future on plastic bags, causing cities like Hoboken and Jersey City to rush to pass local bans before they could be preempted. 

Smith announced the soon-to-occur veto Thursday morning at a joint committee hearing at Toms River Town Hall on plastics pollution. At the hearing, Clean Water Action, which has been working in collaboration with Clean Ocean Action, Sierra Club, Save Barnegat Bay and Surfrider Foundation to advocate for a veto and fix (i.e. replace with a ban on plastic bags), joined the chorus of applause on the pending veto announcement. 

"Consumption of disposable plastics has spiraled out of control - we are causing irreparable damage to our environment, marine life, oceans, and health. That's because much of it ends up in our landfills, incinerators and waterways," said Amy Goldsmith, NJ State Director of Clean Water Action, who testified at the Toms River hearing. "We applaud Governor Murphy for committing to veto the industry-led Bag Bill (S2600/A3267) and thank Senator Smith for introducing stronger legislation (S2776/A4330) that will address a trifecta of plastic waste- bags, straws and Styrofoam."

S2776/A4330, sponsored by Senator Smith, will ban single-use carryout plastic bags, expanded polystyrene food service products, and single-use plastic straws. Clean Water Action is calling on Senator Smith to perfect the bill even further by ensuring:

  • effective enforcement from state and local authorities.
  • no limit to square footage of retail space to which this bill applies.
  • no loopholes that would allow stores or food service businesses to provide alternative single-use bags such as “compostable” or “biodegradable” plastic bags, or to allow thicker single-use plastic carryout bags to pass as reusable.
  • a 10 cent fee on all other  carry-out bags to avoid the environmental effects of simply replacing one single-use disposable item with another.

"This is a huge victory for New Jersey," said Goldsmith. "We look forward to working with Governor Murphy and the NJ Legislature to pass stronger legislation that is effective and truly benefits our environment, health and communities." According to Goldsmith, plastic pieces on the ocean surface now outnumber sea life 6 to 1. Plastic also contain chemicals like BPA which are absorbed by the body. Studies show that they alter hormones and disrupt the endocrine system.

Clean Water Action is leading the way in reducing single-use disposable products used in food service industry. It has launched a "ReThink Disposable" program which prevents waste before it starts by working with local governments, businesses, and consumers to minimize single-use disposable packaging in food service to conserve resources and prevent waste and ocean litter pollution.

Since our founding during the campaign to pass the landmark Clean Water Act in 1972, Clean Water Action has worked to win strong health and environmental protections by bringing issue expertise, solution-oriented thinking and people power to the table. Clean Water Action has more than 100,000 members in New Jersey.

Amy Goldsmith