HOWELL – During a recent council meeting, the Howell Environmental Commission brought the hot-button issue of single-use plastic bags to the council’s attention.
Joan Osborne, chairperson of the committee, requested that the governing body take action on whether or not to ban single-use plastic bags, as many townships in New Jersey have already begun doing.
Lots of local shore towns have banned or begun regulating single-use plastic bags, such as Point Pleasant, Stafford Township and various townships on Long Beach Island in Ocean County. The bans encourage the use of reusable canvas bags over plastic to benefit the shore environment and prevent plastics from getting into our waters.
“The thin plastic bags are a scourge to the ocean, they take forever to degrade, they are found in the food we eat,” said Osborne, noting that tiny particles of plastic can be found in commonly consumed seafood items.
The Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions has sent forth its participating members – Howell included – to petition their governing bodies for action, according to Osborne.
Deputy Mayor Robert Nicastro said that the issue has come before the council before via the state proposed tax on plastic and paper bags and the Environmental Commission, who requested the governing body support the tax.
“There have been no formal talks by the Council [on the topic] but I oppose another “tax” from Trenton,” said Nicastro. “I am aware of the plastic debate and the environment…I personally haven’t seen all the data supporting these bans but have heard arguments on both sides.”
Nicastro intends to request that the Environmental Commission put together an educational awareness program on plastics; how to find alternatives, reuse, and recycle.
“This is a first important step before “taxing” for plastic bags,” he explained. “We all support being good stewards of the environment and encourage using reusable bags and recycling alternatives. I think we also need to see how the ban works for the few municipalities [that have enacted it] and what tweaks they make later.”
Numerous members of the public came forward in support of Osborne’s request at the meeting, urging the council to look into it.
Nicastro stated that the governing body plans to monitor the issue.