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Poll: Should New Jersey Bag the Plastic Bags?

Those plastic bags trapped in trees or blowing down the street like urban tumbleweed are more than unsightly. They’re bad for the Garden State. But what’s the next step?

It’s been an idea kicked around for years: Ban the plastic bags that wind up littering our landscape, jeopardizing marine ecosystems, and fouling our oceans. But a ban, or even a fee on single-use carry out bags, has yet to make much headway among legislators or policymakers. With a growing recognition of the scope of the problem, however, the push to eliminate or discourage the use of plastics is gaining more support, as evidenced by New York’s plan to ban plastic bags as early as next year.

Is it time for New Jersey to follow suit? Perhaps so, but the issue is likely to face a tough road in the Legislature and an uncertain response by the Murphy administration, both of which are embroiled in a potentially bruising battle over next year’s state budget.

What should the state do?

  • Yes. Ban the bags as soon as practicable. They are doing appalling damage to the environment and are an ever-present eyesore in parks, trees, and the state’s waters. It is long past time to finally eliminate this problem in New Jersey.

  • Maybe. A more effective approach would be to impose a fee on plastic and paper bags, a strategy that has proven effective in other states and cities. A five-cent fee per bag seems a reasonable price to pay. It also would help address another pressing problem: setting aside money to reduce the public’s exposure to lead.

  • Absolutely. The state needs to take some action to avoid having a patchwork of different bans and fees adopted by towns and cities across New Jersey. A statewide bill would avoid confusion and reduce the burden on consumers and retailers.

  • No way. New Jersey does not need any more regulatory mandates or new fees. Besides, the money would probably end up being diverted to plug a hole in the state budget, as happens with so many other programs.

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