The reality is apparent: single-use plastics and polystyrene are an environmental nightmare.
Our state alone uses 4.4 billion plastic bags annually, the effects of which are not hard to see. These bags persist in our waterways and green spaces for centuries. Every day we do not act on this problem, 12 million more plastic bags could end up in our streets, landfills, and oceans.
Plastic pollution, including plastic straws, threatens more than 600 species by means of ingestion and entanglement, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It acts as a sponge for contaminants present in our waterways, adsorbing PCBs, DDT, oil, and pesticides.
Single-use polystyrene, or Styrofoam, also poses a hazard to our natural resources. It takes more than half a millennium for a Styrofoam cup to break down, and carries toxins that move up the food chain to endanger human health. Use of plastic products leads to ingestion and/or inhalation of large amounts of both micro-plastic particles and hundreds of toxic substances with known or suspected carcinogenic, developmental, or endocrine-disrupting impacts.
It’s time for New Jersey to lead the nation in eliminating single-use plastics and be an environmental leader once again.