RED BANK: PLASTIC BAG BAN PASSES
A ban on single-use plastic bags will go into effect in September, 2020. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
By JOHN T. WARD
Red Bank stores will be barred from giving customers plastic bags and styrofoam food containers under an ordinance adopted by the council Wednesday night.
The ban was approved without any opposition voiced, though supermarket executive lamented that such laws are being adopted town-by-town, rather than at the state level.
The ban applies to “any commercial enterprise that provides carryout bags to its customers” in town. Those that offer paper bags must use bags made with at least 40 percent recycled content.
Phil Scaduto, executive vice president of Food Circus Supermarkets, owner of the SuperFoodtown on Broad Street,
“We were never really about arguing about the ban on plastic bags. We get it. It should happen,” he said. “But it should happen on a broader scope. It should happen at a statewide level rather than a municipal level.”
That puts the Red Bank store at a competitive disadvantage against store in nearby towns that don’t have bans, he said, citing the ShopRite that opened in Shrewsbury last year. “It’s going to drive our expense line up,” he said.
“We believe in this, but we believe in it at a broader level,” he said.
Mayor Pasquale Menna agreed.
“I’ll go even further and say it should be nationwide ban, because it’s a moral imperative that’s been abandoned by policymakers,” he said.
That’s one reason for holding off on fines for a year, Menna said. “Maybe in that year, the state will act,” he said.
Locust Avenue resident and Clean Water Action state director Amy Goldsmith, said her organization is working to get the state legislature to adopt a statewide ban, adding that action at the municipal level was helpful in that effort.
“As we get more and towns to pass ordinances, we can actually move Trenton to do the right thing so that there is uniformity, and the competitive issues between one store and another can go away,” she said.
She noted that Cranford recently passed a ban that also includes stirrers, lids and utensils.
“People are going farther and farther because we must,” she said. “It is an imperative here.”
Unlike Little Silver, which adopted a ban that also includes plastic straws, Red Bank’s does not ban the straws. At an earlier meeting, Councilwoman Kate Triggiano, who spearheaded the ordinance, noted that many special-needs consumers relied on the bendable straws.
Paulo Rodriguez Heyman, a member of the Environmental Commission and Marion Street resident, said it’s “fantastic” that Red Bank was acting. State legislators would have less incentive to follow suit “if they didn’t see the action at the local level,” he said.
Council adoption was unanimous. Here’s the ordinance.