Plastic bags will soon be gone from Secaucus checkout lines.
The town’s council on Tuesday passed an ordinance banning plastic bags in stores starting in February 2020. Secaucus joins municipalities across the county and state seeking to cut down the environmental impact of single-use plastic bags.
Mayor Michael Gonnelli said he voted in favor of the motion because he believes there is an excess of plastic bags polluting the town.
“We do cleanups year-round and all we pick up is plastic bags,” he said. “You go out to the river…plastic bags. It’s out of control.”
Councilman James Clancy said he hasn’t seen that problem, so he voted against the ban, making him the only council member to do so. He often saves plastic bags from ShopRite and uses them around the house to collect garbage, he said.
“We’re told that there’s plastic bags all over the place,” Clancy said. “That’s why I voted no. I don’t see it.”
Secaucus stores will still be able to offer paper bags but will have to charge customers at least 10 cents per bag, which the businesses will receive. The bags must be made up of at least 40 percent recycled material.
Plastic bags exempt from the ban include bags used for produce, laundry, newspapers, and pharmacy medications.
Secaucus Environmental Director Amanda Nesheiwat initiated the effort to ban plastic bags in town.
“We understand the plastic pollution problem and how plastics are impacting oceans, our Meadowlands and land and sea animals,” she said in a video explaining the ban.
Walmart, which provides plastic bags to customers at its Secaucus location, said it has already set a zero-waste goal.
“We are taking additional actions across our business and working with suppliers to use less plastic, recycle more and support innovations to improve plastic waste reduction systems,” Micah Ragland, Walmart’s director of sustainability communications, said in a statement.
“Walmart will continue to comply with the laws in the markets where we operate and remains active in our collaborative efforts of working with retailers, suppliers, customers, policymakers and other stakeholders to reduce plastic waste.”