Updated: The Maplewood Township Committee did not vote on an ordinance banning plastic bags at its March 5 meeting. After hearing from local business owners and others concerned about inconsistencies and other issues with the ordinance, the Township Committee tabled the ordinance until its April 2 meeting. Township Committee members said they will work to revise the ordinance and have a public discussion on March 19. A vote will probably not come until early May.
The Maplewood Township Committee is poised to vote on an ordinance that would ban plastic bags and regulate paper bags by retail establishments in the town.
The hearing and vote on the ordinance on March 5 follows on months of discussion on the topic — including abandoning a previous ordinance that would have imposed fees on plastic bags. (Read Village Green’s coverage here and here and here.)
Ordinance #2946-19 now specifies that, effective June 1, 2019, “single use plastic carry-out bags” will be prohibited for use by retail establishments in the Township of Maplewood. According to the language of the ordinance, “This prohibition applies to bags provided for the purpose of carrying goods away from the point of sale and does not apply to product bags or to produce bags used to carry produce within the retail establishment to the point of sale. The prohibition applies to single use plastic carry-out bags used for take-out deliveries from retail establishments with the Township of Maplewood. The point of sale in such transactions is deemed to be at the retail establishment, regardless of where payment for the transaction physically occurs.”
From June 1 through July 31 this year, retail establishments “may provide to any customers, upon request of the customers, a paper bag without charge.”
However, paper bags will be subject to mandatory fees effective August 1, 2019:
“Effective August 1, 2019, all retail establishments shall make available to customers, upon request by the customer, for a fee of .05 cents, paper bags for the purpose of carrying goods or other material away from the point of sale, subject to the provisions of this Ordinance. The fee charged shall be reflected in the sales receipt and shall be subject to applicable tax. The fee charged shall be retained by the retail establishment.”
The ordinance also contains language on the promotion of reusable bags to costumers and it exempts certain customers from the fees for paper bags. More specifically, paper bags must be provided free of charge to customers who are participating in any federal or state welfare program, including the NJ Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) or the NJ State Supplemental Security Income Program (SSI).
Retailers who violate the ordinance will be subject to fines, including a $50 fine for the first violation after written warning notice is given, then escalating to $100 for the second violation, and $200 for the third or any subsequent violation.
See the ordinance and meeting agenda below.