The New Jersey Senate Environment and Energy Committee is reworking draft legislation designed to spur use of recycled plastic and modeled after a California law that encourages the reuse of plastic beverage containers to keep plastics from being dumped in landfills, incinerators, and oceans. The draft bill (S-2515), not yet made public, is viewed by proponents as a way of reducing use of plastics and helping to develop a domestic market for recycled material in the United States, a market that has virtually disappeared with the closure of overseas markets in China and elsewhere.
Sen. Bob Smith, who chairs the Senate panel, announced the revisions to a bill he originally introduced in June at a committee hearing last week. Smith (D-Middlesex), the bill’s sponsor, said he hopes to have the legislation signed into law early next year. The committee substitute emerged after Smith had extensive discussions with the state Department of Environmental Protection, which convinced Smith that a California bill signed into law last month ought to establish the framework of such a bill. “It is much more to the California model than the way we started out,’’ said Smith, who described the proposed changes to the bill at the committee meeting last week.
So far, this draft legislation seems to have attracted more support from both industry and environmentalists than a bill awaiting Gov. Phil Murphy’s signature that would ban single-use plastic and paper bags. “We are encouraged,’’ said Dennis Hart, executive director of the Chemistry Industry Council of New Jersey. He said the sector is committed to the reuse and recycling of plastics. “The more we can encourage reuse, the less of fossil fuels we will use,’’ Hart said.