New Jersey—You Did It! New Law Passed to Curb Single-Use Waste
Did you hear that? It was the sound of marine mammals and
other wildlife jumping for joy now that NJ Governor Murphy signed the
strongest, most comprehensive law (S864) in the United States to reduce
single-use waste, including harmful plastic items. Often, animals mistakenly
ingest or get entangled in plastic items littered in the environment and suffer
the consequences, which are sometimes lethal.
“It’s a good day for marine critters and the power of the people,” said Cindy Zipf, Executive Director of Clean Ocean Action (COA). “For over 35 years, thousands of COA’s Beach Sweep volunteers have collected over 7.2 million pieces of trash, mostly plastic, off NJ’s beaches. Thanks to Governor Murphy and the NJ Legislature, we’ve successfully drawn a line in the sand and made NJ a world leader in reducing the plastic plague on this marvel of a planet.”
In an official news release, NJ Governor Murphy said, “Plastic bags are one of the most problematic forms of garbage, leading to millions of discarded bags that stream annually into our landfills, rivers, and oceans…With today’s historic bill signing, we are addressing the problem of plastic pollution head-on with solutions that will help mitigate climate change and strengthen our environment for future generations.”
In addition to 35 years of beach litter data from our Beach Sweeps program, COA collaborated with numerous groups and citizens to establish and support a law to reduce single-use waste littered throughout the state. COA also actively worked with municipalities to enact single-use waste ordinances, of which there were over 55 municipalities with such ordinances.
The law, which goes into effect in spring 2022, bans single-use plastic carryout bags and polystyrene foam food service ware, allows plastic straws on demand, and phases-out paper bags at large grocery stores. Residents and businesses have 18 months to 2 years to plan for the law when it goes into effect.
Now it is up to all of us to make small changes in our daily lives: bring reusable bags, skip the straw, and use the more eco-friendly and public health-friendly food ware alternatives currently available. Less plastics mean less fossil fuels used to make these items, less stuff to clog landfills for decades, and less litter lurking in our environment, posing harm to wildlife.
Congratulations to all who worked to support this statewide effort to reduce single-use waste, a true-blue win for all. Now get your reusable carry-out items ready, and perhaps buy reusable items for holiday gifts to get people started on their plastic-free journeys!