By JOANNE L. PAPAIANNI
Plastic pollution is being targeted up and down the Jersey Shore and Asbury Park may be the next beach town banning items made of plastic materials including straws and plastic bags.
Two employees of the Surfrider Foundation, John Weber, regional director and Andrew Chambarry, chair of the Jersey Shore chapter, spoke to the City Council at the June 13 meeting asking them to introduce legislation either banning plastic items or charging a fee for their use on the Asbury Park beaches and boardwalk.
“It gets into the food chain and environment,” Chambarry said.
He also said recent beach sweep events yielded 980 pounds with 90 percent of the debris plastic.
Weber said the trend to ban plastics in major cities began in San Francisco, which was the first city to ban plastic bags in 2007.
But the city then turned to paper, which he says is labor intensive, detrimental to the environment and more expensive.
“Washington, DC banned both paper and plastic,” Weber said.
He said that city cut down 70 percent of its use of plastic and paper bags.
Weber said California instituted a paper bag fee where the merchant receives 10 cents for every bag used.
“Fees work,” he said.
Weber suggested that the city purchase reusable bags to be distributed throughout town.
“It’s a great way to market the town,” he said.
Deputy Mayor Amy Quinn said city officials, the Green Team committee and many in the business community are “jazzed up” about banning plastics from the beachfront.
But Quinn said they are not talking about banning everything and do not want to add a burden to the business community.
She also said creating an education campaign about the banned materials was a priority, and added that the program could be phased in over time whether it included a ban or a fee.
Weber said he would give the council sample ordinances that other towns have used.
“I would love to have the public’s input,” Quinn said.