Government Maplewood

Maplewood Leaders: Recycling Is Costing Us; Manufacturers Should Be Held Responsible

Maplewood NJ leaders recently passed an ordinance outlawing the use of plastic bags for point of purchase, to be phased in this summer.

But Maplewood’s crusade against plastics doesn’t end there.

“Last week, my Township Committee colleagues and I unanimously passed a resolution demanding our state and federal legislators look at instituting taxes and user fees in this industry, and also requirements to phase out virgin plastic and incorporate recycled plastics in production,” wrote Adams in an email to Village Green.

Resolution No. 101-19 reads, in part:

“The Township of Maplewood urges its Federal and State Legislators to enact ways to hold corporations that manufacture and use plastic for consumer goods to bear a substantial part of the part of the burden for its use by such means that may include a tax, user-fee, mandated changes in manufacturing on all plastics produced and sold and place in the environment.”

See the full resolution below.

The resolution was sent to U.S. Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker, Congressman Donald Payne, NJ Gov. Phil Murphy, NJ State Senator Dick Codey and State Assembly representatives Mila Jasey and John F. McKeon.

It may seem symbolic, but Adams says that the Township can use the resolution to get the ball rolling on legislation in New Jersey, modeled on bills in other states.

“In California, a bill is being introduced for beverage containers to be subject to phased-in recycled plastic mandates,” Adams explained. “By 2021, beverage containers would be made of at least 25 percent post-consumer recycled plastic. That would increase to 50 percent in 2025, 75 percent in 2030 and 100 percent by 2035. So, consideration should be given to a tax, user fee or deposit on those plastic water bottles or containers because those who are being environmentally responsible shouldn’t have to shoulder the financial burden of those who continue to use single-use plastics.”

Although there is no bill in Trenton currently, Adams said that “this is something we did to get the conversation started. We have many manufacturers of plastic in the state and we also, of course, have many nationwide. The conversation has to start somewhere, and Maplewood is proactive on moving toward green practices as much as possible.”

“There’s a problem when a person can buy a case of water bottles for $3, when recycling those bottles is costing us so much environmentally and financially,” said Adams. “We need to incentivize people to use reusable whenever possible and make it harder or more expensive to buy single-use plastics. Increased costs may induce corporations to be more responsible with their packaging too.”

Adams noted that many people have been lulled into feeling okay about using plastics because they recycle them. “Well, that’s no longer a good thing,” she said, “there are too many plastics to recycle and it’s now too complicated to do it effectively. Now the market that used to be there for recycling plastics is severely depleted and instead of making money by providing curbside recycling, it is costing us money.”

In fact, it’s costing the town a lot of money.

“In 2019, our Township recycling budget is a $250,000 line-item and it is fully expected to increase each year,” Adams wrote.

The Township is also working to increase consumer awareness locally.

Adams explained that the Maplewood Green Team “is busy educating about plastic bags in the immediate future, but will also be educating on reusing over recycling.”

Meanwhile, Adams will be pushing for action in Trenton: “To quote the leader of an advocacy group called Last Beach Cleanup, ‘The sooner we accept the economic impracticality of recycling, the sooner we can make serious progress on addressing the plastic pollution problem.'”

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