Plastic Bag Ban Ordinance Adopted in Beach Haven

Aug 15, 2018

The Beach Haven Borough Council has adopted an ordinance prohibiting businesses in the municipality from distributing single-use plastic carryout bags. At the Aug. 13 meeting, Mayor Nancy Taggart Davis said the ban will not go into effect until next June, allowing businesses ample time to prepare for the changeover.

She said plastic bags are especially harmful to marine animals and are one of the most common garbage items on beaches. Davis noted 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.

The ordinance points out 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 million 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.”

During a public hearing on the ordinance, John Wachter, general manager of the Murphy’s Market chain, said that while he agrees that plastic bags are harmful, switching over to paper bags does not solve anything.

“Paper bags are just as harmful to the environment,” he said. “Mostly what this ordinance is doing is changing the behaviors of shoppers.”

John Hailperin, president of the Beach Haven Taxpayers Association, said his organization supports the ban. To get borough residents accustomed to the eventual prohibition of single-use plastic carryout bags, he said the group is offering reusable shopping bags free of charge. The items can be picked up at the New Jersey Maritime Museum at 528 Dock Rd. in Beach Haven.

Another ordinance adopted 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,” the ordinance says.

Davis said the ordinance is “very timely,” noting how streets have became inundated during various rainstorms this summer.

— Eric Englund

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