Smith, Codey Resolution Urging Federal Government to Punish Plastic-Making Manufacturers Passes Senate

TRENTON A Senate Concurrent Resolution sponsored by Senate Environment and Energy Committee Chair Bob Smith and Senator Richard Codey that urges the federal government to take action to require manufacturers of single-use plastic products to assume responsibility for pollution caused by those products passed the full Senate.

“In 1950, the United States threw out two million tons of plastic.  Now we throw out 380 million tons of plastic, that is two continents worth,” said Senator Smith (D-Middlesex/Somerset).  “This is a public health crisis.  Both fresh and saltwater contain extraordinarily high amounts of micro-plastics, which can also be found in fish as well.  Recent studies have shown that micro-plastics are being discovered inside our bodies because of the consumption of fish.  The chemicals in plastics are carcinogenic, and we are literally poisoning ourselves.  The plastic makers know the dangers of their product yet they don’t do anything about it.  This is a similar situation to how the tobacco industry understood the dangers of smoking and didn’t do anything about it.  We should be holding plastic making companies accountable as well.  This is a problem we must take immediate steps to correct.”

“When science provides you information of significant value to benefit the well-being of the public, you act on it immediately,” said Senator Codey (D-Essex/Morris).  “Our waterways are polluted with plastics that are breaking down into micro-plastics and are entering our bodies when we consume fish.  If we do not act on the information provided from the researchers at Rutgers and Princeton Universities, we will be looking at a public health crisis.  Plastic is the new tobacco and we need the Federal Government to address this issue.”

The concurrent resolution would urge Congress and the President of the United States to enact federal legislation requiring manufacturer responsibility for single-use plastic products.  Further, the concurrent resolution would urge the Attorney General of the United States to take action to institute litigation against manufacturers of single-use plastic products to recoup clean-up costs, water filtration expenses and damages to natural resources caused by discarded single-use plastic products.

While some single-use plastics may be recycled, plastic bag recycling is highly specialized and significant volumes of single-use plastics are disposed of as trash.  This ends up in your landfills, incinerators or becomes litter, blocking drainage systems, polluting waterways and marine waters, and endangering fish, wildlife, and human health. In New Jersey alone, approximately one million tons of plastic waste is generated annually, of which approximately 58% goes to landfills and 28% is incinerated.

The concurrent resolution, SCR-136, was released from the full Senate by a vote of 25-5.