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June 12, 2020.
Single-use disposable plastics are a major source of litter and pollution in our environment. They do not biodegrade and are extremely difficult to recycle. Our recycling facility does not recycle them. They are most frequently used once for a brief period of time before being discarded. Paper bags are also extremely harmful to the environment due to the amount of energy and water used to produce them, and the energy used to transport them. The law is meant to encourage the use of reusable rather than disposable bags, containers and straws, thereby contributing to a cleaner, healthier environment.
Yes. Plastics will remain in the environment for hundreds of years or more. They destroy wildlife, clog storm drains, end up in waterways and the oceans and fill landfills. If placed in your curbside trash, they increase the Township’s waste stream. The production of paper bags is a large contributor to climate change. This law is protecting our environment and health by moving away from our “disposable” habit to a “reusable” one.
The 5-cent fee for paper bags and at least 10-cent fee for reusable bags will encourage customers to bring their own bags. Prior to being given a paper bag or reusable bag, a customer must be asked whether they want a bag, and be informed of the fee. The bag fees must be included separately on the customer’s receipt. Retailers will keep the fee to offset any bag costs.
Studies have shown that these types of bags do not effectively disintegrate. A far more important point is that these bags are disposable and thus, counter to the objective of reducing the amount of waste and pollution in our environment.
One of the objectives of the law is to promote the use of reusable bags by reducing our dependence on single-use bags. This law will reduce the number of single-use plastic and paper bags used in Millburn Township. However, if shoppers forget their bags they will still have the option of using paper bags (for a fee of 5-cents) to carry their purchases out of the store if the retailer has chosen to make paper bags available.
The following are Exemptions to the law:
(a) Plastic bags used inside the retail establishment to:
(b) Newspaper bags, door-hanger bags, laundry and/or dry cleaning bags, or bags sold in packages containing multiple bags intended as food storage bags, garbage bags, yard waste bags, or pet waste bags.
No. These may still be sold. The law only applies to carryout bags at the “point-of-purchase” (think cash register).
Yes. You are encouraged to bring your reusable bags with you every time you shop, not just in a grocery store. You may bring a bag made from any material, including plastic.
Reusable bags can be made from a variety of materials such as canvas, woven synthetic fibers, or thick plastic that is more durable than disposable plastic bags, allowing multiple uses. Many times reusable bags contain recycled plastic. Even when made out of plastic, reusable bags significantly reduce the environmental impact created by single-use bags.
The good news is that reusable bags can be washed and cleaned. If using a cloth bag, these bags can be included in a load of laundry. If the reusable bag is made of plastic, these can be wiped down with a disinfecting cleaner.
You cannot be forced to buy a bag. However, if you choose to use a paper bag or a store’s reusable bag you must pay the fee imposed by law. The bag fees are imposed by Millburn Township through the Ordinance. The retail operators must follow the law and collect the bag fee. You are strongly encouraged to bring your own bags.
You do not have to use any bags at all. Bags are not required. (Think big box store) You may also use other types of containers.
Creating this new habit may take a little time and practice. Some simple suggestions to help you remember to bring your bags are:
You may ask for a straw at any retailer that has them available for customers. Retailers are not required by law to have straws available. The retailer must not ask you your reason for requesting a straw. If you need or prefer to use a straw, you are encouraged to bring a reusable straw with you.
Click on this link and you will be directed to the Ordinance (PDF).