The most aggressive attack on plastic bags, plastic straws, and polystyrene containers in the nation advanced out of the New Jersey Senate Environment and Energy Committee late last week. The bill heads to the budget committee.
The legislation also slaps a 10-cent per bag fee on paper bags. ATR offered testimony opposing the legislation at a September 27 hearing.
This is a disaster on many levels for a state that has long-term debt problems, a flagging economy, and just raised taxes by over $1 billion to patch a broken budget. By further attacking businesses on the heels of a massive corporate income tax hike, New Jersey risks losing jobs, economic activity, and ultimately revenue.
Next year 78 percent of new revenue is expected to come from the recently passed package of tax hikes, a sign that the state’s economy is not naturally growing enough to sustain its growing budget.
New Jersey is already unwelcoming enough, ranking dead last in the entire country in business tax climate. A whopping 2 million people left the state between 2006 to 2014.
It’s no wonder New Jersey’s jobs picture is bleak.
The state’s labor force lost 34,000 workers from August 2017 to August 2018, and 61,000 workers since January 2015, according to data from the Department of Workforce and Labor Development, and analysis from Garden State Initiative.
The ban bill only make life more difficult for New Jersey’s remaining businesses, which the state desperately needs.
The plastics industry employs 18,000 people in New Jersey. The state has companies producing styrofoam, and even those recycling it that would be hurt by a ban.
Foam containers are relied upon by moderately priced restaurants with a high volume of take out orders. Banning them will drive up costs for these business-owners and reduce quality. Meanwhile, foam containers are convenient, reliable, FDA-approved, and safe.
Banning plastic bags means stores have to buy costlier bags and pass on costs to customers, or eat them. Perhaps even worse, lower income folks, and seniors who may not be able to carry around reusable bags at work or in a car will end up paying more- and they cannot afford the 10-cent paper bag fee.
And for what benefit? A New Jersey Clean Communities Council survey found grocery-style plastic bags made up just 0.8 percent of New Jersey litter.
Governor Phil Murphy is cheerleading the ban, which he brought into the spotlight after vetoing a misguided, revenue-grabbing fee on plastic and paper bags. He would be expected to sign the measure, so it’s up to the legislature to see the light.