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Howell environmental chair asks council to consider action on plastic bags

HOWELL – A representative of the Howell Environmental Commission has asked the Township Council to “do something about plastic bags.”

During a council meeting on July 17, Joan Osborne, who chairs the commission, raised the issue about the plastic bags that are typically used at retail establishments such as supermarkets and convenience stores.

“The thin plastic bags are a scourge to the ocean, they take forever to degrade, they are found in the food we eat. If you have seafood, the micro-particles get absorbed in shrimp, plankton, fish, birds eat it, turtles, and it is harmful,” Osborne said. “I remember going to the store and getting paper bags … there are solutions, (plastic bags) are not necessary.”

Osborne said some municipalities are banning the use of plastic bags, while another option is to charge a fee for each plastic bag a customer uses. She said she prefers a ban on the use of plastic bags.

“I am asking the council (to consider action), because the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions has asked every environmental commission that is a member, and Howell is a member, to get their town council to support some type of action on plastic bags,” Osborne said.

Osborn asked the members of the governing body to place a resolution on the agenda regarding the issue or to discuss the matter at a future meeting. Members of the public supported her request to the council to consider banning the use of plastic bags in Howell.

“You have heard her arguments and they are completely correct. I will remind you that all of our waterways are clogged with plastic bags at various times. Our storm drains drain into our waterways and so the problem is here in Howell, it is not just out in the ocean. This is something (the council) should look at very very soon,” William Field said.

“I support some type of ordinance about plastic bags, either they (should be made) stronger or be reused, because I know that when I go to (the store), I need to get like three bags to put my (groceries) in because they are not strong,” Gerry Barron said.

Barron said that at various times the thin plastic bags can be seen in trees along Howell’s roads, and added, “It is ridiculous, we have to do something, so please work on it.”

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