Packing peanuts to be banned in NJ under new law

Good News Notes:

More recycled plastic, glass and paper will be used in everyday products — from trash bags to beer bottles — under anew law Gov. Phil Murphy signed Tuesday.

The law also prohibits the sale of polystyrene packing peanuts in New Jersey within two years — a move supporters say will help keep the easily blown pieces of lightweight plastic out of the litter stream. 

“With this new law, more plastic will get recycled, more will get turned into consumer packaging, and less will end up in our oceans, waves, and beaches,” said John Weber, a regional manager for the environmental group Surfrider Foundation.

Plastic pollution has become an increasing problem in New Jersey. More than 80% of litter picked up by volunteers for Clean Ocean Action at annual beach cleanups from Cape May to Sandy Hook has been plastic in recent years.

Murphy previously signed a law that will ban or place constraints on disposable plastic products including drinking straws and carryout bags, as well as polystyrene cups, plates and takeout cartons and other food containers made of the material, often called Styrofoam. 

But that law never targeted packing peanuts, whose shock absorption makes for effective shipping filler but whose light weight and inability to biodegrade make it an environmental problem. 

Although some businesses and special recycling events accept packing peanuts, much of it ends up in a landfill or incinerator. Few if any New Jersey towns have curbside pickup for packing peanuts because they weigh so little, making them far less valuable as a recycled product, and take up so much room to transport.

The heart of the new law will require manufacturers to incorporate more recycled plastic, glass and paper into containers and bags. 

  • Most plastic containers must have at least 10% to 15% recycled materials within two years. The percentages would increase over the years until such containers contain 50% recycled content.
  • Most glass containers would be required to contain at least 35% recycled material.
  • Paper carryout bags sold in New Jersey would be required to have 20% to 40% recycled material depending on their size….”

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