To the Editor:
In November, Princeton residents voted in favor of considering a charge on single-use bags as part of a Mercer County voter sentiment referendum. The idea of that proposal was to help reduce the amount of single-use bags taken at the register, thus leading to a decrease in landfill and environmental waste. People would be encouraged to bring their own bags to avoid the fee and to avoid polluting the environment.
The question passed overwhelmingly three-to-one in Princeton encouraging us to now consider actual legislation on this topic. Princeton could follow the lead of many other towns, cities, and states in the United States and around the world who have enacted such single-use bag policies.
The Princeton Environmental Commission has come out in support of a draft ordinance calling for a 10¢ charge on plastic and paper single-use bags at carry-out in stores in Princeton. The merchants would keep the entire proceeds from this charge, as they would for any other item purchased in their establishment. Shoppers would be encouraged to bring their own reusable bags to avoid paying for them at the register.
There are ample provisions for implementing this program on a timeline that is both merchant-friendly and also considerate of families in need. Families participating in assistance programs would be exempt from the charge, free bags would be distributed to those in need, and merchants could continue to give refunds to customers who brought their own bags … an additional incentive.
We thank the residents of Princeton for understanding the issue and for voting for a policy that we know makes the world a cleaner place. Enacting a charge on single-use bags has been shown to decrease their use by 60-90 percent. We would like to see the same happen in Princeton. While other New Jersey towns are considering this, we hope Princeton will take the lead on passing this legislation.
Princeton Environmental Commission