Photo by: Ryan Morrill Long Beach Township is giving each household in the municipality two reusable bags.
Last November, Long Beach Township adopted an ordinance to prohibit businesses in the municipality from distributing single-use plastic carryout bags. Officials decided on a six-month phase-in, meaning the bag ban is set to take effect next week, on May 1.
Patrons will have to bring their own reusable bags to stores in the township, or pay a small fee for recycled paper bags.
As Ordinance 17-31C reads, “No business or store shall provide any single-use, plastic carryout bags to a customer at the check stand, cash register, point of sale, or other point of departure for the purpose of transporting products or goods out of the business or store, except as otherwise provided” in the measure. Business or store is defined in the ordinance as an “establishment that engages in the retail sale of goods and products. The definition includes, but is not limited to, pharmacies, supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, clothing stores, surf shops, food marts, and food service establishments.”
Tackle shops may still use plastic bags for bait. And, as the ordinance clarifies, “The term single-use, plastic carryout bag does not include reusable bags, produce bags, product bags, or garment bags.” Bags may be used for raw meat as well.
The municipality “believes it has a duty to investigate and implement any and all necessary and proper steps the township can take to protect the environment and the public health, welfare and safety,” states the ordinance, which also points out that, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as many as one trillion plastic bags are used worldwide each year. It’s estimated that less than 5 percent of that plastic is recycled.
“It is beyond dispute,” the measure reads, “that the use of single-use plastic carryout bags has a severe and negative environmental impact on the local and global environment as a result of the greenhouse gas emissions emitted to produce such bags, the land-based and ocean-based pollution created, the hazards posed to wildlife, the blocking of storm drains by plastic, the hazards posed to sources of water for humans, and the negative impact on the ecosystem and food chain as a whole.”
At the township’s public hearings on the initiative last year, a number of individuals spoke in favor of banning plastic bags. No one voiced opposition to the restriction.
And as Mayor Joseph Mancini said this past Monday, “I’ve talked to pretty much all the stores, and they’re all on board. Wawa is stocking paper bags. I talked to Acme, and they’re ready.”
Acme Market, in the township’s Beach Haven Park section, is the largest business in the municipality that will be affected by the sanction. Dana Ward, Acme’s senior communications coordinator, said following the adoption of the ordinance, “While Acme is not an advocate of this ban, we will comply with all applicable ordinances of Long Beach Township.
“We look forward to continuing, as always, to be an active participant in the community and supporting LBI through our philanthropic efforts,” she added.
Mancini remarked, “None of us foresees any problems with any of this,” but, should there be any noncompliance, standard township violation penalties will follow, with a minimal fee for a first offense, and greater fees thereafter.
After the bag ban was enacted last year, Alliance for a Living Ocean Executive Director Kyle Gronostajski emphasized, “This is great news for our island and the local environment.
“Single-use plastic bags are not necessary and are certainly an item we can live without,” he added. “Bringing your own bag is simple enough to do and can have real impacts on our beautiful surrounding beaches and waterways.”
Gronostajski is eager to see the potential effect such a ban could have “on the numbers of plastic bags we see around our area in the environment.” During last year’s Clean Ocean Action Beach Sweeps, 9,052 plastic bags were collected, he noted.
Mancini hopes customers will easily transition to bringing their own reusable bags to township stores, if this isn’t habit already.
Long Beach Township is giving each household in the municipality two reusable bags. And Mancini Realty is also giving out bags to renters and buyers, the mayor pointed out.
As the mayor remarked, “Hopefully this starts an awareness and everyone does their part.”
— Juliet Kaszas-Hoch