Clean Ocean Action

Single-Use Plastics

Overview

Plastics are a human-created boon and bane. While the benefits are many, the wasteful use of plastics, particularly for single-use items, has become a plague and is an ecosystem crisis.

  • Plastics are now found throughout world and are accumulating in all marine ecosystems.
  • Plastic marine litter eventually breaks down into smaller bits and ultimately becomes microplastics.
  • If plastic pollution continues at the current rate, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.
  • Plastic pollution is killing, maiming, and harming marine life through ingestion or entanglement.
  • Plastic is now found in some seafood and sea salt.  The long-term human health risks are real.

Plastic Pollution in New Jersey

 

 Data from Clean Ocean Action’s Annual Beach Sweeps provide a snap-shot of the scope of the problem in New Jersey.

Item

2017

2018

% change from previous year

Plastic Bags

9,052

11,180

24% increase

Plastic Straws

31,167

36,156

16% increase

Plastic Cups

3,675

4,717

28% increase

Foam Food Containers

928

1,383

49% increase

Foam Pieces

21,117

24,127

14% increase

Foam Cups

3,455

3,169

 8% decrease

 

Long After Use, Plastic is Forever

Most of the plastic used and consumed is used once. However, these products never completely go away – they can last for generations long after their single use.

  • According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the estimated decomposition rates of plastic debris found on coasts are: 
    • Foamed plastic cups: 50 years 
    • Plastic beverage holder: 400 years
    • Plastic bottle: 450 years
    • Fishing line: 600 years
    • Plastic grocery bag: 10 to 20 years

The Effect Plastics Have on the Environment

All our plastic waste is causing significant harm to ocean life:

  • For decades cases of sea birds feeding plastic food to chicks, and whales and sea turtles harmed or killed by plastic bags, have made the news. More recently, coral reefs have been found smothered by plastic bags and turtles have been found with straws jammed into their nostrils.
  • Marne debris is negatively affecting more than 800 animal species.
  • When plastic ingestion occurs, it blocks the digestive tract, gets lodged in animals’ windpipes cutting airflow and causing suffocation, or fills the stomach, resulting in malnutrition, starvation and potentially death.
  • Entanglement of species in marine debris is a global problem affecting at least 200 species. It can cause decreased swimming ability, disruption in feeding, life-threatening injuries, and death.  

Microplastics

Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic ranging in size from 5mm (a grain of rice) to microscopic.  They have been found in every corner of the planet—from NJ beaches to Arctic sea ice and from farm fields to urban air.  Sources are many, and include industrial pellets and clothes dryer vents.  Importantly, marine plastic is breaking down into microplastics and are being absorbed into the food chain.

 

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State & Municipal Solutions to the Plastic Plague

Ever increasing public opposition to the harm caused by plastic, especially single-use items, is resulting in actions to limit plastic consumption and waste to protect our coastal and marine ecosystems.

International Single-Use Plastics Regulations

  • In a 571-53 vote, the EU approved a measure to ban specific single use plastic items in 2018.
    • Under the proposed directive, items such as plastic straws, cotton swabs, disposable plastic plates and cutlery would be banned by 2021, and 90% of plastic bottle recycled by 2025.
  • Canada aims to ban single-use plastics by 2020
    • The government said it would undertake scientific analysis before determining which plastic products to ban as early as 2021. But Mr. Trudeau said Canada expected to follow the example of the European Union.
    • The ban will likely include plastic bags, straws, cutlery, plates, and stir sticks. 

Statewide Efforts

  • Vermont (S.113) - Bans single-use plastic bags, polystyrene food service products, plastic beverage stirrers, and single-use plastic straws upon request, effective in July 2020

  • California (SB.270) - Bans single-use plastic bags in 2016 (allows for thicker “reusable” plastic film bags), and first state to adopt statewide ban on plastic straws in 2018
  • Maine (LD.289) - 1st state to ban single-use polystyrene foam containers and later plastic bags, effective  April 22, 2020
  • Oregon (HB.2509) - Bans single-use plastic bags with a five-cent fee on paper & reusable bags and single-use plastic straws upon request, effective January 2020
  • New York (SB.1508) - 3rd state to ban single-use plastic bags, effective March 2020
  • Hawaii - 1st state to ban single-use plastic bags through a de facto ban in all counties  in 2015
  • Connecticut (Public Act 19-117, § 355) - 10-cent fee on plastic bags & eventual complete ban in 2021
  • Maryland (SB.285) - Bans all polystyrene foam food packaging, effective July 2020
  • Delaware (HB. 130) - Bans plastic bags effective January 2021

American Cities Ban Plastics

  • Washington, DC - Implemented a five-cent fee on paper and plastic bags in 2009; banned Styrofoam food serviceware in 2016; banned plastic straws and stirrers in 2018
  • Seattle, WA - Banned plastic bags in 2012; in July 2018, banned single-use plastic straws and utensils
  • Baltimore, MD - Banned plastic bags and added a five-cent fee for all other bags in 2020
  • Boston, MA - Banned plastic bags in 2017; includes five-cent fee on paper bags
  • San Francisco, CA - Banned plastic bags in 2007
  • Edmonds, WA - Banned plastic bags in 2009
  • Portland, OR - Banned plastic bags in summer 2011
  • Bellingham, WA - Banned plastic bags in 2011
  • New York City, NY - Banned polystyrene food containers in January 2019
  • Philadelphia, PA - Banned plastic bags in 2019

New Jersey Municipal Single-Use Plastics Ordinances

See the full list here!

  • New Jersey51 ordinances have been passed addressing single-use plastics.

 

To start 2020, 10 new municipal ordinances went into effect in January to bring the total number of NJ municipalities with singe-use plastic reduction ordinances passed AND in effect to over 30! These single-use plastic reduction ordinances are just a first step to reducing the plastic pollution that plagues our state and waterways and causes such harm and even death to marine life.    

 

Click the links to see COA's model ordinances for banning single-use plastic straws, bags, polystyrene (Styrofoam) foam food containers, and utensils.

 

32 municipalities + 2 counties – Passed and in effect

1.  Asbury Park – January 2020

2.  Atlantic County – August 2018

3.  Atlantic Highlands – November 2019

4.    Avalon – June 2019

5.    Bayonne – January 2020

6.    Beach Haven  – June 2019

7.    Belmar – May 2018

8.    Bradley Beach – January 2019

9.    Brigantine  – June 2019

10. Camden County January 2020

11.  Garfield – January 2020 

12.  Glen Rock – January 2020

13.   Harvey Cedars– June 2018

14.   Highland Park – Phase One: May 2019, 10-cent fee on single-use plastic bags. Phase Two: November 2019, ban on single-use plastic bags and 10-cent fee on paper

15.   Hoboken – January 2019

16   Hopewell – September 30, 2019

17.  Jersey City – June 2019

18.    Lambertville – January 2020

19.  Little Silver – October 2019

20.   Long Beach Township – May 2018

21.   Longport – December 2015

22.  Maplewood – July 2019

23.    Monmouth Beach – June 2018

24.  Ocean Gate – September 13, 2019

25.  Paramus – September 2020

26.  Parsippany-Troy Hills – January 2020

27.   Point Pleasant Beach – May 2018

28.   Ridgewood – January 2020

29.  Saddle Brook – January 2020

30.   Somers Point – January 2019

31.  South Orange – January 2020

32.   Stafford Township – August 2018

33.   Stone Harbor – June 2019  

34.  Ventnor – October 2018

14 municipalities – Passed and waiting to go into effect

1. Chatham Borough – March 2020

2. Chatham Township – March 2020

3. Collingswood – April 2020

4. Cranford  – July 2020 

5. Fair Haven – February 2020

6.  Haworth – March 24, 2020

7.  Long Branch – December 2020

8. Madison – March 2020

9. Millburn – June 2020

7. Montclair – TBD

8. Red Bank – September 2020

9. Sea Bright – May 2020

10. Secaucus – February 2020

11. Summit – May 2020

12. Teaneck – July 2018 [ON HOLD]

13. Trenton – December 2020

14. Woodland Park – March 2020

Total: 51 ordinances

Click here to download!

New Jersey Single-Use Plastic Reduction Ordinances

 


51 total plastic ordinances (that COA knows of)

  • 11 plastic bag bans

  • 2 plastic bag fees – no fee on paper 

  • 2 paper/plastic fees

  • 16 hybrid ordinances – bans plastic, places fee on paper

  • 20 multi-faceted ordinances (straws, bags, polystyrene)

  • At least 10 pending ordinances (drafted ordinance / under consideration)

 

Headquarters:

49 Avenel Blvd.
Long Branch, NJ 07740

Field Office:

18 Hartshorne Drive, Suite 2
Highlands, NJ 07732

Voice: (732) 872-0111
FAX: (732) 872-8041


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