Voorhees Township to discuss potential restrictions on plastics

After a concerned resident addressed the township Environmental Commission last week, township officials are expected to weigh the potential of banning single-use plastics and Styrofoam

Despite current gridlock at the state level regarding the banning of plastic bags, one Voorhees Township resident is continuing to urge township committee to join the movement of growing New Jersey municipalities that are imposing restrictions or bans on single-use plastics.

Gov. Murphy is reportedly in favor of restrictions on the use of single-use plastics, however he vetoed a bill that would have done just that, stating that it was not tough enough.

“As a society, we must break our dependence on single-use bags when going about our daily routines and instead commit ourselves to sustainable alternatives,” said Murphy, in a statement released Aug. 27. “Our responsibilities as stewards of the environment and our natural resources demand nothing less. I am committed to taking bold but necessary steps in order to protect our environment and firmly believe that we must look forward and implement programs designed for the future.”

Meanwhile multiple New Jersey municipalities, including numerous shore locations, have taken action on their own, imposing bans or restrictions with fees to follow for the use of such plastics.

Voorhees resident Susan Festa hopes to see local residents living the same lifestyle sometime soon to better care for the environment.

During public comment of the Voorhees Township Environmental Commission meeting Tuesday, May 14, Festa addressed the commission and inquired about the possibility of Voorhees Township looking to ban single-use plastics in the near future.

“What do Chile, China, Morocco, Kenya, Rwanda, the Congo, eight towns in Arkansas and 13 towns in New Jersey all have in common?” Festa asked the commission. “They all have banned plastics bags.”

“Voorhees Township can take a step in right direction and move with the pack,” Festa added. “So we’d like to urge you to consider banning all plastic bags, plastic straws and Styrofoam.”

Chairman Edward Hale noted that such an ordinance would need to be created while not driving away business from Voorhees Township. Festa said she hopes to be able to get the township to work with and learn from other municipalities in the state that have already placed restrictions to avoid problems for businesses.

Hale said the commission agrees with her sentiment and intentions, but the process of instituting an ordinance would require work with township committee and ensuring businesses would not leave Voorhees Township due to the potential ordinance.

“I think the conversation needs to be heard and we need to start it and we need to keep saying it,” said commission member Valerie Brown.

At the meeting, Hale stated he would try to meet with township committee in its workshop meeting in the coming week.

“I should be able to get some kind of a straight-up answer,” Hale said. “It may be as simple as getting a sample ordinance so we can look it over or going to a number of businesses to see if it would be an issue.”