Plastic bag ban arrives in Paramus, NJ’s shopping stronghold
PARAMUS — The unofficial shopping capital of New Jersey has joined the list of communities to ban single-use plastic bags.
Paramus also took it a step further, as the ordinance also bans polystyrene, or Styrofoam, food containers, to take effect in January 2020.
Paramus is home to between 700 and 800 retail stores, according to NJ.com, and sees more than six billion dollars in retail sales a year, which historically has topped all other zip codes in the country.
It promptly was applauded on Facebook by the non-profit Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC), which noted there now are at least 70 plastic reduction ordinances passed in NJ as of mid-August.
New Jersey uses 4.4 billion plastic bags a year, according to the NJ League of Conservation Voters.
Back in May, state Senator Bob Smith announced his intention to expand a proposal for a ban on single-use plastics to also include disposal paper bags.
He and fellow Democratic state Senator Linda Greenstein sponsored the original proposal last fall, which would charge 10 cents for disposable paper bags.
It came on the heels of Gov. Phil Murphy vetoing a 2018 measure that would have imposed a 5 cent tax on plastic and paper disposable bags across NJ.
Smith says the ban on plastic bags is an urgent issue, as plastics have turned up in many waterways and the food chain itself.
Scientists have found plastic fragments in hundreds of species, including 86% of all sea turtle species, 44% of all seabird species and 43% of all marine mammal species, according to Environment New Jersey.
The addition of paper bags to the proposed ban has sparked conversation around NJ about whether it's a "better" choice without sacrificing convenience.
"If landfilled, plastic bags are more environmentally benign than paper, as they require less space; paper occupies approximately half of overall landfill volume," according to the Environmental Literacy Council. More emissions are created by vehicles transporting paper bags to stores, as "It would take approximately seven trucks to transport the same number of paper bags as can be transported by a single truck full of plastic bags."
Among supporters of the proposal is The New Jersey Food Council, an alliance of food retailers and their supplier partners.
"As more customers shift their shopping habits and bring reusable bags, we think it’s a sensible solution to phase out and ban both plastic and paper single use bags," NJ Food Council President and CEO Linda Doherty said in a written response to NJ 101.5 News.
Doherty also said "As customers choose to reuse, we support this uniform progressive policy at the checkout. We are prepared to work with the Legislature and the Murphy Administration on a statewide standard."
More from New Jersey 101.5: