December 17, 2019

Styrofoam regulations, new plastic bag ban to take effect in March, 2020

An ordinance banning the use of all single service styrofoam products, as well all carry-out plastic bags from food service and retail establishments, is scheduled to take effect on March 8, 2020. The ordinance was originally proposed by Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla and the Hoboken Green Team, and passed by the Hoboken City Council in August. The new regulations will help to advance Hoboken’s Climate Action Plan, which aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and exceed the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Ban on all carry-out plastic bags

• The full carry-out plastic bag ban strengthens the original single-use carry out plastic bag ban that is currently in effect.
• All carry-out plastic bags, including “reusable” plastic bags, will be prohibited at all retail and food establishments as of March 8, 2020. Currently, all single-use plastic bags are prohibited at all retail and food establishments.
• Retail and food establishments must still make paper bags available to customers for a fee of 10-25 cents per bag. All proceeds from the fee will continue to be collected by the retail or food establishment to offset the costs of the paper bags.
• The following plastic bags are still allowed for free: produce bags, product bags (packaging), bags for frozen foods, meat, fish, flowers, plants, or baked goods, pharmacy prescription bags, newspaper bags, laundry or dry-cleaning bags, and packages of multiple bags, which includes pet waste bags.

Residents are encouraged to utilize reusable bags at all retail and food establishments.

Styrofoam ban

• All products made with expanded polystyrene (EPS), commonly known as styrofoam, will no longer be permitted for sale at retail or food establishments in Hoboken as of March 8, 2020.
• Products that consist of EPS including cups, containers, lids, closures, trays, plates, utensils, napkins and more will no longer be permitted for distribution at retail or food establishments.
• Straws are not included in the new regulations.

In 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services added styrene, a chemical found in styrofoam products, to its list of known or possible carcinogens. EPS isn’t biodegradable and can last in landfills for 500 years or more.

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