Red Bank council members vote to ban single-use plastic products

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RED BANK – Members of the Red Bank Borough Council have adopted an ordinance that prohibits the use and distribution of single-use plastic bags, polystyrene foam containers and straws by business operators in town.

The ban in Red Bank will take effect in one year.

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According to the ordinance that was adopted during an Aug. 21 meeting, operators of businesses, restaurants and grocery stores will not be permitted to provide customers with single-use plastic carryout bags at any facility, borough-sponsored event or event held in town.

Any business that provides single-use carry out bags must distribute reusable bags or paper bags made from a minimum of 40% post-consumer recycled content, according to the ordinance.

The ordinance states that food establishments may not distribute food in polystyrene/plastic foam. Disposable food service ware that contains polystyrene/plastic foam is prohibited.

Red Bank contractors and event promoters will not be permitted to provide food in disposable polystyrene/plastic foam containers.

Plastic drinking straws will be provided to customers only upon request. Grocery stores and restaurants that distribute food service ware (i.e., plastic forks and knives) will be required to use recyclable or compostable products.

Contractors and event promoters who use disposable food service ware would be required to use recyclable or compostable products, with the exception of drinking straws.

Exemptions for recyclable or properly composted food service ware and
other polystyrene/plastic foam products include the following:

• Products made from polystyrene/plastic foam wholly encapsulated by a more durable material;

• Some construction products made from polystyrene/plastic foam;

• In an emergency situation and for the immediate preservation of the public health or safety;

• Laundry, dry cleaning bags, newspaper bags, or packages of multiple bags intended for use as garbage, pet waste or yard waste;

• Bags provided by hospitals, medical providers, physicians, dentists and pharmacists.

Businesses that violate the ordinance would receive a written warning notice and pay $250 for a first violation; $500 for a second violation within any 12-month period; and $1,500 for each additional violation within any 12-month period. Every 30 days a violation continues will constitute a separate offense, according to the ordinance.

During the public hearing, Philip J. Scaduto, vice president of Food Circus Supermarkets, which is the parent company of Super Foodtown, Maple Avenue, expressed mixed feelings about the law.

Scaduto said the law would impact the supermarket, but said, “we get it, (banning plastic bags) is what should happen.”

He said banning single-use plastic bags should be carried out at the state level and not at the municipal level.

Scaduto said the law puts the company’s store at a “competitive disadvantage” and said, “as a single store operator here in Red Bank, there are other supermarkets in surrounding municipalities that don’t have … a ban on plastic bags.”

He said the cost of doing business in Red Bank will increase.

“We believe in (banning plastic), but we believe (in a state-wide plastic ban) and not just at a municipal level. (Banning plastic) really does affect local businesses,” Scaduto said.

Following Scaduto’s remarks, Mayor Pasquale Menna said the operators of businesses and restaurants will have one year to use their current supply of plastic and polystyrene foam containers.

“The council wholeheartedly endorses and wishes we could be sitting here tonight with a state-wide plastic ban, or even a national plastic ban,” Menna said.

In other business, several residents supported and objected to the council’s plan to name a borough street after Edward McKenna Jr., who served as mayor from 1991 to 2006.

The unnamed street is one block north of West Front Street and intersects Boat Club Court, according to an ordinance that was listed on the agenda.

Alison Gregory, who is running for Borough Council, said a street should not be named for McKenna because he had been convicted of several motor vehicle violations. Gregory suggested naming the street for a former council member or for Menna.

Taking a different view was William Poku, who said McKenna did a lot to revive Red Bank’s fortunes. In response to Gregory’s comments about the former mayor’s driving record, he said everyone “makes mistakes once in a while.”

Council members subsequently voted unanimously to introduce the ordinance which would, if adopted, name the street Edward J. McKenna Jr. Way. A public hearing on the ordinance has been scheduled for Sept. 11.

Finally, municipal officials agreed to submit an application to the Monmouth County Open Space Trust Fund and request a $250,000 grant. Officials said a grant, if received, would be used to fund improvements at East Side Park, Mechanic Street, and Mowhawk Pond/Count Basie Park, Henry Street. Officials said Red Bank would have to match any grant that is received from the county.

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