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War on plastics: Hawaii, New Jersey set strictly forbidden in the country

connectVideoMore states set tougher restrictions on single-use plastic

WESTAMPTON, N. J. — Lawmakers in Hawaii and New Jersey are given the toughest statewide plastic and Styrofoam ban in the country, in the movements that could usher in a wave of anti-plastic legislation.

New Jersey bill would ban Styrofoam beverage and food containers, plastic bags and plastic straws from all the shops and restaurants in the state.

“The goal was not only to clear up litter, but to deal with litter that is not biodegradable,” New Jersey Sen. Linda Greenstein, a co-sponsor of S2776, told Fox News.

Hawaii the proposal from the Senate bill goes even further, not only the banning of Styrofoam containers, but almost all plastic of fast food and full service restaurants, including drink bottles, cutlery, straws, stir sticks – even garbage bags.

“Plastic is made from fossil fuels, and it is time for us as a society to move away from our dependence on petroleum and towards clean sources of energy,” Hawaii state Sen. Mike Gabbard told Fox News about SB 522.

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Both proposals are currently making their way through their respective state senates.

California and Hawaii are the only states that already ban single-use plastic bags.

A number of large cities, Boston and Chicago, have a similar prohibition.

Supporters point to a 2008 United Nations report on Plastics Pollution that is displayed if the current trends continue, the oceans would contain more plastic than fish in 2050. However, that same report notes that more than 90 percent of the plastic pollution comes from Africa and Asia.
(2008 Getty Images)

Supporters point to a 2008 United Nations report on Plastics Pollution that is displayed if the current trends continue, the oceans would contain more plastic than fish in 2050. However, that same report notes that more than 90 percent of the plastic pollution comes from Africa and Asia.

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The plastic bag industry calls all these bans go too far.

A 2018 environment-litter study, paid for by New Jersey, found that neither Styrofoam boxes, plastic bags or plastic straws were the top 10 most littered items in the state.

“We have described it as taking a sledgehammer to a mosquito,” said Matt Seaholm, director of the American Progressive Bag Alliance. “Plastic retail bags are the best options at the checkout, as long as they are disposed of.”

The industry proposes that the legislature would have to work on the enforcement of current litter laws, and the promotion of more recycling education. While plastic bags can be recycled, they can not be disposed of in the curbside bins. Instead, consumers have to take their plastic bags back to their local shops who then dispose of them.

The problem is that plastic bags clog and pollute recycling machines, recyclers in New Jersey, the Burlington County Recycling Center told Fox News. Recyclers say that a ban on Styrofoam, plastic straws, plastic bags would make recycling more efficient. Straws are too small to recycle anyway, and it is not cost effective to recycle Styrofoam.

Gabbard and Greenstein both say their proposals are work-in-progress.

For example, Greenstein said the New Jersey ban has been changed recently to two exceptions. A change that are disabled request plastic straws. The second sets the people on government assistance from paying the 10-cent paper bag tax.

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“It is extremely controversial, no question. But my point is this is something that would be good and important for the environment, and I think it is,” Greenstein said.

The senator put people and companies in touch with her if they have concerns so that the bill may be amended further.

Lori Ann Giardina, co-owner of the South Street Creamery in Morristown, N. J., said she thinks the ban is a good idea, but she is still struggling with the idea of serving milkshakes without plastic straws.

“The quality of the products that are on the market as far as paper, straws,” Giardina said: “not much.”

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