Business Government South Orange

South Orange Plastic Bag Ban to Be Reintroduced as Reusable Bag Ordinance in June

A proposed ordinance to ban plastic bags for commercial point-of-purchase use in South Orange will be re-introduced in June as a reusable bag ordinance, as the Township’s leading business organization and the South Orange Environmental Commission form a task force to refine and reframe the measure.

The announcement comes after a community meeting on April 1 at the South Orange Performing Arts Center to solicit public feedback about the ordinance.

Trustee Steve Schnall indicated that some concerns were raised at the April 1 meeting by business owners with regard to some of the potential exceptions based on their unique type of business. “It was felt that enlisting a task force made up of key stakeholders would result in even greater participation and sense of ownership in the resulting policy,” reported Schnall. “The goal will be to take less than two months to iron out any remaining details on definitions and enforcement. This will be a great way to use the improved ordinance as a springboard to aligning our businesses and consumers so that South Orange will be recognized as an environmentally conscious place to live and shop.”

The task force will be spearheaded by the South Orange Village Center Alliance (SOVCA), which manages South Orange’s downtown business district, and the South Orange Environmental Commission. (See a press release below announcing the task force.)

“We are excited to partner with the Environmental Commission to build a comprehensive ordinance that everyone – our business owners, residents and Village government – can take pride in,” said SOVCA Chairman Steven Pedigo via the release. “This ordinance is a step in the right direction for the environment, and we look forward to collectively working through the implementation challenges to ensure its success.”

South Orange Village Trustee Walter Clarke said that there was universal support for the goals of the ordinance to focus on the use of more “eco-friendly” materials at the April 1 meeting. He said that the South Orange Environmental Commission worked to put forward the initial plan and was open to modifying it — with the overarching goal remaining the same:  increasing consumer’s use of reusable take-away bags.

Clarke said that, once an ordinance has passed, the Township will launch a communication and outreach plan and also provide a significant number of free reusable bags. In addition, local business owner Gary Shippy has offered to donate $1,000 towards the manufacture of new reusable bags.

From SOVCA and the South Orange Environmental Commission:

The South Orange Village Center Alliance (SOVCA) and the South Orange Environmental Commission announced on April 16 that the two groups have formed a task force to help shape the South Orange reusable bag ordinance and its associated implementation. The task force comes after many local businesses expressed a desire to have a more active voice in developing the policy and its execution. As such, the Board of Trustees vote on the current reusable bag ordinance will be delayed until June.

The task force will be comprised of local business owners, SOVCA representatives and members of the environmental commission. Both SOVCA and the Environmental Commission are committed to an ordinance that reduces the use of plastic bags in the Village of South Orange by encouraging the use of reusable shopping bags, banning single-use plastic carry-out bags and charging a nominal fee for paper carry-out bags. The task force will operate on an eight-week timeline to revise the current ordinance. The group will review exemptions, enforcement, bag fees and design an engagement and education process for residents and businesses owners.

“We are excited to partner with the Environmental Commission to build a comprehensive ordinance that everyone – our business owners, residents and Village government – can take pride in,” explained Steven Pedigo, chairman of SOVCA. “This ordinance is a step in the right direction for the environment, and we look forward to collectively working through the implementation challenges to ensure its success.”

“The Environmental Commission looks forward to collaborating with SOVCA on the implementation of a reusable bag ordinance. South Orange shoppers know that local shopping helps our economy and builds community. It’s also good for the environment,” said Bill Haskins, chairman of the South Orange Environmental Commission. “It can get even better if we take another step in reducing our waste stream by encouraging the use of reusable bags. Together we can send the message: local shopping is sustainable shopping.”

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