By Kelly Nicholaides
for Montclair Local

Montclair is joining municipalities in the Garden State in banning single-use plastic bags. The mayor and council will hold a public hearing and vote on the ordinance tonight, July 23, following months of outreach from environmental groups to local businesses and residents.

The ban was introduced at the June 25 council meeting.

“The goal of policy is to create widespread change in habits needed for addressing environmental justice, ocean pollution and climate change,” said Maura Toomey, North Jersey’s organizer for Clean Water Action’s Rethink Disposables program at a June 25 mayor and council meeting. “Plastic encompasses all these issues, so we need systematic change,” she said, adding that local ordinances that ban plastic with an added fee for paper are necessary in order to achieve sustainability and is the best proven solution.

The ordinance defines reusable bags as follows: paper bags that display the words “recyclable” and/or “reusable”; bags made of cloth or washable fabric, with handles designed for multiple reuse, and can be used 125 times and carry a minimum of 22 pounds; plastic bags a minimum of 2.25 mil thick. The ban does not apply to laundry bags, produce or product bags, package bulk items, fruits, nuts, grains, candles, or small hardware items, wrap flowers, potted plants, unwrapped prepared foods, bakery goods, and pharmacy prescription bags. Retailers can apply for an exemption for $100. 

If a customer does not bring their own reusable bag, compliant bags must be provided by the retailer for a fee of 10-25 cents. 

Violation of the ban will come with a $100 fine for first violation, $200 for second, and $500 for third and subsequent violations.