Pennington sets public hearing on single-use plastic bag ban for May 4


Pennington council members will decide on the phasing out of single-use plastic carryout bags during a May 4 public hearing.

“The phasing out of single-use plastic bags remains a priority for Pennington Borough. I see it as not only as a benefit for Pennington Borough but the greater community. Pennington Borough has been looking at the use of single use plastic bags within the borough for almost a year now,” Council President Catherine Chandler said. “The environmental commission last summer completed a survey of all borough businesses to ascertain how many used single-use plastic bags and to measure their support for a ban.”

According to the Pennington Council, Pennington is working to promote the use of reusable carry out bags and recyclable paper bags at businesses and stores in the borough.

“With the state unable at this time to pass regulation the borough believes that regulation at the municipal level is important,” Chandler said. “The ordinance was carried to our May meeting because April 6 was the borough’s first remote/zoom council meeting. Although we did have one member of the public attend, we felt it was appropriate to wait a month to give the public an opportunity to comment on this ordinance.”

If adopted, Pennington would enter into an education period that would last for six months. The borough would develop an education and outreach program to encourage the transition from single-use plastic carryout bags to alternatives including reusable bags. The program would be implemented by the Environmental Commission.

In Hopewell Valley, Hopewell Borough outlawed single-use plastic carryout bags in 2018. The ordinance approved by the Hopewell Borough Council takes effect on April 22 and allows stores to hand out recyclable paper bags or provide reusable bags to customers for free or for a small charge.

Asbury Park, Red Bank, Jersey City, Hoboken, Teaneck, Point Pleasant Beach, Paramus, Glen Rock, Maplewood and Belmar are among the municipalities that have banned single-use plastic bags, so far.

Lambertville in 2019 enacted a ban on single-use plastic bags, Styrofoam and polystyrene containers and plastic straws.

Pennington’s public hearing comes on the heel of the New Jersey state legislature reconsidering legislation that would ban single-use plastic bags, paper bags and polystyrene and Styrofoam takeout food containers.

The bill (S2776) that is pending before the State Legislature bans stores from handing out single-use plastic bags and single-use paper bags to all customers. Stores are defined as grocery stores, supermarkets, convenience stores, liquor stores, drug stores and retail establishments of at least 1,000 square feet and that provide carryout bags to customers.

Food service businesses, which include restaurants, cafes, delicatessens, coffee shops, grocery stores, vending trucks or carts, food trucks and movie theaters, would not be able to use Styrofoam or polystyrene containers for takeout food. They would not provide plastic straws, unless a customer requests it because of a disability or medical condition.