Senator CHRISTOPHER "KIP" BATEMAN
District 16 (Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset)
“Plastic Carryout Bag and Film Plastic Recycling Act.”
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel
An Act concerning plastic bags, and supplementing Title 13 of the Revised Statutes.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. This act shall be known and may be cited as the “Plastic Carryout Bag and Film Plastic Recycling Act.”
2. The Legislature finds and declares that:
a. It is the public policy of the State of New Jersey to reduce environmental pollution, to reduce the toxicity of waste materials in the solid waste stream directed to solid waste facilities, and to maximize the removal of plastic carryout bags and film plastic from the waste stream in order to recycle them;
b. Plastic carryout bags and film plastic do not biodegrade, which means that such bags and film plastic ultimately break down into smaller pieces that enter the ecosystem. These pieces of plastic cause illness, injury and death to animal and marine life by entangling them or contaminating their food supplies. The production of plastic bags and film plastic worldwide has significant environmental impacts each year, including the use of over 12 million barrels of oil, and the deaths of thousands of marine animals through ingestion and entanglement;
c. Each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide, which is over one million bags per minute, and of which billions of bags end up as litter each year; and
d. Most plastic bags do not biodegrade which means that the bags break down into smaller and smaller toxic bits that contaminate soil and waterways and enter into the food web when animals accidentally ingest those materials.
The Legislature therefore determines that the State should require:
a. The owners or operators of supermarkets and retail establishments to establish an in-store recycling program that provides an opportunity for customers to purchase a reusable bag and to return clean plastic bags to that store for recycling;
b. Each plastic bag provided by a supermarket or retail establishment to include specified information printed or displayed on the bag, and the placement of a plastic bag collection bin in each store that is visible and easily accessible to the consumer; and
c. All plastic bags collected by supermarkets or retail establishments to be collected, transported, and recycled in a manner that does not conflict with county recycling plans.
3. As used in this act:
“Chain of stores” means five or more stores located within this State that are engaged in the same general field of business and (1) conduct business under the same business name; or (2) operate under a common ownership or management pursuant to a franchise agreement with the same franchisor.
“Consumer” means any person who purchases a product from a store that is placed in a plastic bag at the time of sale.
“Department” means the Department of Environmental Protection.
“Film plastic” means uncontaminated, non-rigid film plastic used for packaging products that is composed of plastic resins including, but are not limited to, newspaper bags, dry cleaning bags and shrink-wrap.
“Food service establishment” means (1) a restaurant, the principal activity of which consists of preparing for consumption within the restaurant a meal or food to be eaten on the premises; or (2) a restaurant with less than 10% in annual retail sales of meals or food prepared and ready to be eaten for consumption off the premises of the restaurant.
Manufacturer" means any person that manufactures plastic bags that are sold or distributed within this State or that imports plastic bags into the United States for sale or distribution within this State.
"Owner or operator" means a person in control of, or having daily responsibility for, the daily operation of a store, which may include, but is not limited to, the owner of the store.
"Plastic bag" means a carryout bag that is composed primarily of thermoplastic synthetic polymeric material, which is provided by a store to a customer at the point of sale.
"Reusable bag" means: (1) a bag made of cloth or other machine washable fabric that has handles; or (2) a durable plastic bag with handles that is at least 2.25 mils thick and is specifically designed and manufactured for multiple reuse.
"Store" means a retail or wholesale establishment, other than a food service establishment, that sells products and provides plastic bags to consumers in which to place these products and (1) has over 5,000 square feet of retail or wholesale space; or (2) is one of a chain of stores.
4. a. The owner or operator of a store shall establish an in-store recycling program pursuant to this act that provides an opportunity for a customer of the store to purchase a reusable bag and return to the store clean plastic bags.
b. The owner or operator of a retail establishment that does not have over 5,000 square feet of retail or wholesale space, and that provides plastic bags to customers at the point of sale, may adopt an in-store recycling program pursuant to this act.
5. An in-store recycling program provided by the owner or operator of a store shall include the following:
a. A plastic bag provided by the store shall have printed or displayed on the bag, in a manner visible to a consumer, the words "PLEASE REUSE OR RETURN THIS PLASTIC BAG TO A PARTICIPATING STORE FOR RECYCLING" using letters at least one-half inch in height, or a similar message encouraging the reuse or recycling of plastic bags that is not less than one inch in height and uses letters at least one-quarter inch in height.
The owner or operator of a store shall be allowed to use its existing stock of plastic bags for six months following the effective date of this act, and may apply to the department for a waiver, based on economic hardship, to extend this temporary exemption for an additional six month period.
b. A plastic bag and film plastic collection bin shall be placed at each store and shall be visible, easily accessible to the consumer, and clearly marked that the collection bin is available for the purpose of collecting and recycling plastic bags and film plastic.
c. All plastic bags and film plastic collected by the store that are uncontaminated by foreign material shall not be disposed of as solid waste.
d. All plastic bags and film plastic collected by the store shall be collected, transported, and recycled in a manner that does not conflict with the relevant county’s district recycling plan adopted pursuant to section 3 of P.L.1987, c.102 (C.13:1E-99.13).
6. a. The owner or operator of the store shall maintain records describing the collection, transport, and recycling of plastic bags and film plastic collected for a minimum of three years and shall make the records available to the department or the relevant district recycling coordinator, upon request, to demonstrate compliance with the provisions of this act.
b. The owner or operator of the store shall make reusable bags available to customers within the store, which may be purchased and used in lieu of using a plastic bag or paper bag. The provisions of this subsection shall not be applicable to a retail establishment specified pursuant to subsection b. of section 4 of this act.
7. a. Each manufacturer shall make arrangements with the owner or operator of a store, upon the owner or operator’s request, for the collection, transport, and recycling of all plastic bags and film plastic collected consistent with the provisions of subsection d. of section 5 of this act. These arrangements may include contracts or other agreements with third parties.
b. Each manufacturer shall develop educational materials to encourage the reducing, reusing, and recycling of plastic bags and shall make those materials available to stores required to comply with the provisions of this act.
8. a. Unless otherwise expressly provided by this act, the governing body of a county, municipality, or other public agency shall not adopt, implement, or enforce an ordinance, resolution, rule or regulation to do any of the following:
(1) Require the owner or operator of a store that is in compliance with the provisions of this act to collect, transport, or recycle plastic bags; or
(2) Impose a plastic bag fee upon the owner or operator of a store that is in compliance with the provisions of this act.
b. The provisions of subsection a. of this section shall not be construed to prohibit the adoption, implementation, or enforcement of any local ordinance, resolution, rule or regulation governing curbside or drop off recycling programs operated by, or pursuant to a contract with, a county, municipality, or other public agency, including any action relating to fees for these programs.
9. a. Any person who violates the provisions of this act shall be subject to a penalty of not less than $500 nor more than $1,000 for each offense, to be collected in a civil action by a summary proceeding under the “Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999," P.L.1999, c.274 (C.2A:58-10 et seq.), or in any case before a court of competent jurisdiction wherein injunctive relief has been requested. The Superior Court and the municipal court shall have jurisdiction to enforce the provisions of the “Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999" in connection with this act.
If the violation is of a continuing nature, each day during which it continues constitutes an additional, separate, and distinct offense.
b. The department may institute a civil action for injunctive relief to enforce this act and to prohibit and prevent a violation of this act, and the court may proceed in the action in a summary manner.
10. The department shall adopt, pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B‑1 et seq.), rules and regulations as are necessary to effectuate the purposes of this act.
11. This act shall take effect July 1, 2008.
This bill requires retailers to establish in-store recycling programs that provide opportunities for customers to return clean plastic carryout bags.
The bill requires the owner or operator of every retail store to establish an in-store recycling program that provides an opportunity for customers to purchase a reusable bag and return clean plastic bags to that store. The bill requires a plastic bag provided by a store to have specified information printed or displayed on the bag, and requires the placement of a plastic bag collection bin in each store that is visible and easily accessible to the consumer. All plastic bags collected by the store must be collected, transported, and recycled in a manner that does not conflict with the relevant county district recycling plan.
The bill requires every manufacturer of plastic bags to develop educational materials to encourage the reducing, reusing, and recycling of plastic bags and to make the materials available to stores.