By Jennifer Coffey and Ed Potosnak
As we speak — Wednesday, Could 4 — New Jersey will prepared the ground by enacting essentially the most consequential plastics and paper luggage reduction law in the nation.
This new regulation is sweet for the good Backyard State. It bans plastic and most paper luggage, and polystyrene (aka Styrofoam) meals containers, and makes plastic straws obtainable solely upon request.
Here’s why the Plastics Air pollution Discount Act is required:
New Jersey has turn out to be floor zero for plastic litter. Surrounded by water on three sides and positioned between New York Metropolis and Philadelphia, many of the litter discovered on our seashores is plastic, and scientists are more and more discovering microplastics in waterways. These small items of plastic now permeate our lives: they’re within the water we drink, the fish we eat, and the air we breathe. They pose well being issues for New Jersey residents and wildlife.
We’ve additionally more and more documented the heart-wrenching prevalence of whales ravenous to demise and washing up on seashores with guts full of plastic and a turtle with a plastic straw caught up her nostril.
The World Financial Discussion board tells us that if we proceed to make use of single-use plastics on the present price, by 2050 we can have more plastic than fish in our oceans. The Plastic Pollution Reduction Act bans plastic gadgets which have been mostly discovered at cleanups in parks, on the seaside, and alongside roadsides for many years in New Jersey.
We even have a local weather disaster that’s bringing us elevated flooding and, as of final summer season, a sequence of tornadoes. The lack of 30 New Jerseyans final yr from Hurricane Ida is a sign of issues to come back, and if we don’t change now the issue will solely worsen. We should scale back greenhouse gasoline emissions as a lot and as rapidly as doable to maintain the impacts of local weather change from rising exponentially.
Most single-use plastic merchandise are constituted of fracking byproducts. Throughout the passage of the Plastic Air pollution Discount Act, we testified in hearings and introduced at conferences the place oil and gasoline business advocates affirm they “want” plastics manufacturing to maintain the fracking business economically viable.
In actuality, from what science tells us and from what we’re seeing with the current extreme climate occasions, we have to transition away from fossil fuels.
We additionally must create a extra equitable society that advances environmental justice and ceases to perpetuate disproportionate ranges of air pollution in communities the place residents are predominantly of colour, low-income, and communicate English as a second language. These are the very neighborhoods the place cracking amenities crack sure gasoline molecules (ethane) derived from fracking and convert them into different compounds (ethylene) which might be used to provide strong, single-use merchandise resembling plastic luggage. These cracking crops belch cancer-causing chemical substances resembling benzene into surrounding neighborhoods.
With the Plastic Air pollution Discount Act, we’re making massive strides to fight the local weather disaster and advance environmental justice by banning quite a lot of single-use plastics. We’re following within the footsteps of Europe, the Caribbean and Virgin Islands, Australia, and nearer to house, California, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, Maine, Chicago, Washington D.C., New York Metropolis, and Philadelphia.
We can not recycle our approach out of our plastic habits. Nationally, solely about 30% of recycled materials are actually recycled. Up till about three years in the past, a lot of the plastic supplies that had been recycled in America had been shipped to China, India, Indonesia, or Thailand for processing or “disposal.” Sadly, disposal typically meant tossing American plastic waste in native rivers or the ocean. With greater than 9 million tons of plastic coming into our oceans globally annually, the quantity of plastic materials is just too nice to handle even with improved recycling.
The newly banned plastic merchandise in New Jersey require a cultural change and a shift away from “that is the best way we’ve all the time (or at the very least for the previous 40 years) completed it.” There’s a variety of dangerous info on the market concerning the plastics ban from the oil and gasoline industries that don’t just like the change as a result of it can impression their income. The information are that the extra we reuse a reusable bag, the extra environment friendly it turns into from each a price per use and use of sources perspective.
New Jersey’s bag ban is the strongest (and we consider the neatest) within the nation as a result of it also bans paper bags for shops bigger than 2,500 sq. ft.
We realized from the bag bans applied in different nations and states that when single-use plastic luggage are banned, the usage of paper luggage will increase. Nonetheless, paper luggage have a excessive carbon and water use footprint and are inferior to reusable choices.
Polystyrene (Styrofoam) food containers are also banned as a result of they pose well being dangers when the container is available in contact with sizzling meals and drinks and leak possible cancer-causing chemical substances into the meals, and it can’t be recycled. Additionally, plastic straws will only be available upon request at bars, eating places, and meals vans.
Change could be arduous, however New Jerseyans are good, tenacious, and have risen to far more tough challenges. We would like our youngsters and grandchildren to inherit a stupendous state away from polluted oceans and land. Let’s all do our components to make this occur.
Jennifer M. Coffey is the manager director of the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC).
Ed Potosnak is the manager director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters (NJLCV)
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