County approves single-use plastics ban

To be implemented in 2020, the ban affects all county facilities and county-sponsored events

Camden County is about to get a little greener.

According to a county release, it was announced at the October Freeholder Board meeting that the county will ban all single-use plastics at county facilities and all county-sponsored events beginning Jan. 1.

Such a ban includes all single-use plastic bags, plastic straws, stirrers and utensils, as well as Styrofoam and bottled water that comes in containers of one liter in volume or less.

Freeholder Jonathan Young, liaison to the office of sustainability, says the ban is an additional step toward what is already a growing culture of sustainability across the county.

“What really prompted us to do this is that we always say that we are number one in sustainability and it was really the time for us to step up and take the forefront and be the leader in the state about it,” Young said in an interview with The Sun.

According to Young, the Freeholder Board had been discussing the topic over the past year and was continuing to iron out the logistics of how such a ban on plastics and Styrofoam would work, such as speaking with current and potential vendors about alternatives that could be used to ensure events can still be held while also making it sustainable and environmentally-friendly.

“If you want to do business with Camden County, this is what you’re going to have to do,” Young said.

The ban will affect a wide range of buildings and events, impacting vendors that work with Camden County, Camden County College’s bookstore and cafeteria, the Camden County Jail and Juvenile Detention Center, the Camden County Library System, all county-sponsored events, vending machines in county facilities, and the county restaurant, according to the release.

Over the course of the next year, the Freeholder Board will continue to roll out alternatives, according to Young. The hope, he says, is that residents at large will also begin to follow the county’s lead in continuing to make Camden County more sustainable.

“The hope is that we spark some interest with this,” Young said. “I believe it’s our responsibility as elected officials to leave this place a lot better than we found it, and that’s exactly we’re doing starting with this plastic ban.”

Furthermore, Young said he hopes to see municipalities across Camden County enact similar changes as well within their own borders.

“Municipalities will also have to find themselves being a little bit more environmentally conscious moving forward,” said Young. “Look at what Collingswood just did; they have a ban on plastic bags, and with that ban they charge a certain amount for those plastic bags. So the purpose of what we want to do is change the perception or thought process of people.”

The Office of Sustainability, according to Young, helped play a huge role in making the ban realistic and feasible. For more information regarding sustainability initiatives throughout Camden County, visit https://sustainable.camdencounty.com/.