TRENTON — They clog rivers and streams, pile up along the shoreline and fill up landfills. And now, under legislation approved yesterday by a Senate panel, plastic shopping bags could end up costing customers five cents apiece at most stores in New Jersey.
Under the bill (S812), retailers would be required to charge the fee beginning in 2014, and offer only recyclable paper or plastic bags by 2015. They would also have the option of giving a five-cent credit to customers who packed groceries in their own reusable bags.
Money raised by the bill would go toward cleaning Barnegat Bay, which environmental experts say is having the life choked out of it by a variety of pollutants.
“We might be able to do an environmental two-fer here,” state Sen. Bob Smith (D-Middlesex), a primary sponsor of the legislation, said. “We might be able to get plastic and paper bags out of the water bodies, reduce our solid waste stream and at the same time generate funds for cleanup.”
The Senate Environment and Energy Committee approved the measure by a vote of 4-0, with one Republican supporting it and another abstaining. The bill was first introduced in 2008, but until yesterday it had not gained much traction in the Legislature. An identical bill is expected to be considered by the Assembly.
(Excerpt) Read more at nj.com …