Government South Orange

South Orange Moving Ahead With Plastic Bag Ban Ordinance

South Orange is moving ahead with an ordinance to encourage the use of reusable carry-out bags, prohibit plastic bags, and put a fee on the use of paper carry-out bags.

South Orange will introduce the ordinance (see below) at its Board of Trustees meeting on March 25. The Township is hosting an public information session on April 1 (also attached below). Finally, the ordinance should then have a hearing and be voted on it at the April 22 BOT meeting.

While the South Orange ordinance is not an exact copy of Maplewood’s proposed ordinance (which is itself going through revisions), South Orange Trustee and Environmental Committee liaison Walter Clarke told Village Green, “We’re not waiting for Maplewood but rather trying to bring our ordinance closer in to line with theirs so that shoppers would not have to learn completely different sets of rules and retailers would not need to be concerned that customers would just go next-door.”

South Orange actually first introduced a plastic bag ordinance early this year but tabled it. Clarke explained, “It will be back to first reading because we have made enough changes to it that it is considered a first go. These changes were made after receiving feedback from the business community, residents, and comparison with Maplewood’s version.”

(Clarke is in contact with Maplewood officials who tabled their ordinance on March 5 until the April 2 Maplewood Township Committee meeting. Maplewood had a further public discussion on March 19 and has revised the ordinance. A vote on a revised Maplewood plastic bag ordinance is not expected until May, at the earliest.)

At the South Orange public information session on April 1, Clarke will present the basic overview of the South Orange ordinance and said he hopes to hear from local retailers and residents who will be affected “to further address any issues they might bring up that we haven’t considered.”

The law would ban plastic bags for carry-out purchases, institute a 5 cent charge on paper bags to consumers — except those who are on certain public assistance programs, impose fines on retailers who violate the ordinance, and would not take effect until six months after passage (that would be October 22, 2019, if the ordinance is passed on April 22).

Clarke explained, “That 6 months is an education period to get the word out and allow businesses and residents to prepare. The event at the SOPAC loft will be a preamble to that larger education effort.”

“I’m hopeful that our two communities can soon begin taking a big bite out of our plastic and trash/recycling issues,” Clarke said.

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