In an effort to reduce waste, keep marine life and birds healthier and take less a toll on the environment, the State Senate Environment Committee today passed the "Reduce Plastic and Paper Bag Usage Act" by a vote of 4-0-1.


About 100,000 marine animals and 1 million birds die each year from plastics, whether it is by ingestion or entanglement.

When marine animals ingest plastics, they can enter the food chain putting human health at risk because of the toxins in the plastic.  Plastic also clogs storm drains and fills up detention basins.

"This legislation is important because plastic is a threat to our waterways and wildlife and this bill will go a long way in protecting our environment, reducing fossil fuel use and making our state cleaner," said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.  "The five cents is not a fee, it is a penalty on those that do not protect the environment.  The people who bring in canvas bags get a rebate.  This is an incentive for better behavior."

The measure would place a five cent fee on paper and plastic bags to address the overabundance of this litter.  An out right ban on plastic bags is the best way to keep this harmful litter out of the environment.  The money generated by the five cent fee would be dedicated to environmental programs to clean up Barnegat Bay.  The average shopper uses 500 bags a year and with 8.8 million people in the state, the program could raise over $50 million.

"This is a win-win for the environment because we reduce plastic bags while providing funding to clean up and restore Barnegat Bay," said Tittel.  "Plastic bags are a menace to our environment killing birds and sea mammals making our beaches and waterways look unsightly.  We are creating a floating island bigger than Texas.  It is up to each one of us to prevent this plastic bag calamity from getting worse by banning plastic bags that aren't biodegradable."

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