Harvey Cedars Introduces Plastic Bag Ban Ordinance

Jan 17, 2018

On Friday, Feb. 2, at 4:30 p.m., the Harvey Cedars Borough Commission will hold a public hearing on a recently introduced ordinance to prohibit businesses from distributing single-use plastic carryout bags.

If adopted, the bag ban would take effect on June 1. According to Borough Clerk Daina Dale, that would give businesses adequate time to prepare for the measure. Beginning on that date, patrons would have to bring their own reusable bags to stores in the town, or pay a fee for recycled paper bags.

Dale said the ordinance is patterned after a measure adopted last year by Long Beach Township. The ordinance says the municipality “believes it has a duty to investigate and implement any and all necessary and proper steps to protect the environment and the public health, welfare and safety.”

“Plastic bags are not biodegradable,” said Mayor Jonathan Oldham. “They stick around forever.”

Harvey Cedars resident Mary Wilding applauded the borough’s move, noting that she and other members of the Garden Club of Long Beach island have been speaking to various local officials on the issue.

“The garden club is completely supporting this,” she said.

Wilding’s views were crystallized when she saw the 2016 documentary “A Plastic Ocean,” which focuses on plastic pollution of Earth’s oceans.

“Plastic production in our country was estimated to be more than 300 million tons in 2015,” she said. “Half of that is stuff we use once and throw away. Ocean Conservancy estimated more than 690 species of marine wildlife are affected by marine debris. An estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic waste flow from the land into the ocean every year. By 2025, there could be one ton of plastic for every three tons of fish. This encompasses not just bags, bottles and fishing nets, but also microplastics. According to the film, the micro-particles of plastic, some of which carry toxins, are ingested by marine life, and that marine life is eventually consumed by us.”

Last November, Beach Haven borough indicated an interesting in adopting a ban, although no date was set for introducing an ordinance. Mayor Nancy Taggart Davis said plastic bags are especially harmful to marine animals and are one of the most common garbage items on beaches. She said that in marine environments, many animals, including sea turtles, confuse the plastic littering the oceans for food. For sea turtles, the plastic blocks their digestive tract, leading to a slow death.

“Like the township, we are a shore community, and we have to do what we can to protect the environment,” she said. “In Hawaii and California, the plastic bag ban is statewide.”

— Eric Englund


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