Plastic Bag Ban Is Introduced in Beach Haven

Jul 11, 2018

After several months of discussions, the Beach Haven Borough Council has introduced an ordinance prohibiting businesses in the municipality from distributing single-use plastic carryout bags. Mayor Nancy Taggart Davis said officials wanted to take their time in receiving input from residents and businesses before introducing such an ordinance.

“Last month, we showed the movie ‘A Plastic Ocean,’ which detailed how plastic bags are harmful to the marine environment,” said Davis. “That documentary was received, and it was definitely time to act on this.”

However, the mayor said the ban would likely not go into effect until next June 1.

“We want to give businesses plenty of time to prepare for it,” said Davis. “This will give them the whole off-season to get ready.”

She 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.

“As a shore community, we have a moral obligation to do what we can to protect the environment,” she said.

The ordinance points out, among other things, that in 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported that as many as one trillion plastic bags are used worldwide each year and that less than 5 percent of that plastic is recycled.

“In the United States alone, according to the EPA, more than 380 billion plastic bags and wraps are used each year,” the ordinance says. “Approximately 40 percent of the bags used are single-use plastic bags.”

It notes people across the globe throw away four millions tons of trash every day, enough to fill 10 Empire State Buildings, and 12.8 percent of that waste is plastic.

“No body of water, waterway, beach or shoreline is unaffected by this pollution, as ocean currents and waterways that flow into the ocean can transport plastic waste tossed into the water from the borough’s shoreline to Australia,” the ordinance says.

In addition, the ordinance notes that taxpayers “bear the costs associated with the negative effects of plastic, single-use carry out bags on the solid waste stream, drainage, litter, and the negative consequences of the forgoing environmental impacts.”

The ordinance concludes that “it is unquestionably in the best interests of the health, safety and welfare of the residents and visitors to reduce the cost of waste disposal and protect the environment, wildlife and natural resources by reducing the distribution of single-use, plastic carry out bags and incentivizing the use of reusable bags at businesses.”

Another ordinance introduced by the council regulates operating vehicles on flooded streets and roadways. It says no motor vehicle shall be operated on any public street or roadway where flooding exists in a manner as to cast or discharge a wave that carries beyond the edge of the street or curb line.

“For the purpose of this chapter, flooding shall mean the existence of water on the surface of any portion of the street or roadway including any designated shoulder which exceeds six inches in depth,” it says.

Davis said the ordinance is “very timely,” noting how streets became inundated during last Friday’s thunderstorms.

A public hearing on both ordinances is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 13, at 7 p.m.

— Eric Englund

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