Support the Single-use Bag Reduction Ordinance

Collingswood's Commissioners introduce a package of ordinances and resolutions related to green initiatives on Sept. 3

We are happy to announce that Collingswood's Commissioners will introduce a package of ordinances and resolutions that the Green Team has been working on for the past year at their upcoming meeting on September 3.  The Ordinances and Resolutions, most of which are recommended models developed by Sustainable Jersey, establish a variety of measures or programs including encouraging sustainable development and land-use, protecting wildlife, conserving water, and establishing a green grounds and maintenance policy.  

The drafts on Collingswood’s agenda for Tuesday night are:  Sustainable Land-Use Pledge, Complete Streets Resolution, Support for New Jersey’s Wildlife Action Plan, Green Grounds Maintenance, Prohibiting Smoking on Public Property Ordinance,  Outdoor Light Pollution Ordinance, Water Conservation Ordinance, Resolution Establishing a Creative Team, Resolution Supporting Anti-Idling Zones and NJ State Statute (update from 2006), Ordinance Creating a Green Development Checklist, and a Single-use Plastic Bag Ban Ordinance.

We are particularly excited by the Single-use Bag Reduction Ordinance. Currently, 35 of New Jersey’s 565 municipalities and one of 21 counties have passed some sort of plastic bag ban or regulation. Of those, 23 are in effect with 12 slated to go into effect within the next 6 months. If adopted, Collingswood will be the first town in the tri-county region comprised of Burlington, Camden and Gloucester Counties, to pass a bag reduction ordinance. 

Last summer, the Collingswood Green Team, Friends of the Farmers’ Market, and the Borough joined forces to implement a bag reduction education program after several green team members noted a significant use of plastic at the market. 

The program consisted of a new rule that “you’ll have to ask for a bag” to begin educating businesses and consumers to be more conscious of alternatives available.  The Collingswood Green Team and Friends of the Farmers’ Market were on hand to make it easier for shoppers by providing alternatives to plastic bags. We provided three choices for shoppers with our Bring, Borrow, or Buy Program where shoppers could bring their own reusable bag, borrow a bag, or buy an inexpensive bag to use instead of plastic. During the market last year, we provided approximately 500 reusable bags with another 500 distributed at other town-wide events.   

Not all plastic bag rules are created equal. The ordinance on deck for Tuesday's first reading aims to decrease not only the use of plastic bags but ALL single-use bags. The hybrid ban/fee ordinance includes a fee for paper and a plastic ban within 6 months of adoption. The ordinance as written will be in effect after a 6-month voluntary phase geared at getting the word out to consumers and allowing businesses adequate time to plan for the ban. It’s important to understand that just switching to paper is not the best answer. While the elimination of plastic certainly has a positive impact on the harmful effects on precious marine life, the manufacturing and harvesting of paper bags also affect the environment. The Collingswood ordinance is designed to encourage people to go without a bag or utilize reusable bags.

You can view and download the Bag Reduction Ordinance along with other sustainable community ordinances on the Commission's September meeting agenda at the Borough’s Meeting and Forums page here.  

About Sustainable Jersey and the Collingswood Green Team: 

Sustainable Jersey, created in 2009, is a nonprofit organization that provides tools, training, and financial incentives to support communities as they pursue sustainability programs. Towns pledge to a series of measures on the municipal level including reducing waste, improving environmental equity and implementing sustainable policies. Sustainable Jersey also provides grant opportunities for sustainable programs throughout New Jersey.

Collingswood was first certified as a “Bronze” Level Community in 2013 in recognition of its’ environmental efforts. Our goal is to reach Silver Certification in 2020. Due to the work of sustainable Jersey over the past 10 years, many organizations in New Jersey give extra weight to grant applications submitted by towns with the certification or whose programs are aligned with Sustainable Jerseys programs.

The Collingswood Green Team is a group of resident volunteers, borough employees, and businesses that work with the Borough Commission to implement programs that improve our environment. If you are interested in joining the Green Team, please email or direct message us on Facebook @CollsGreenTeam.