If you’re going shopping in Princeton, you better have you budget cushioned a little bit more to pay a 10-cent fee for the plastic bag you carry out. The findings of a recent legal research by Princeton attorney Trishka Cecil found that the town can lawfully charge a shopping bag.
An ordinance was drafted and submitted by residents of Princeton and the Environmental Commission of the town endorsed it. If it is adopted, this will be New Jersey’s only town with such a fee for single-use bags. However, the authority of the town will be dependent on the intent and purpose of the regulation.
According to Cecil’s finding, if the purpose of the fee is to reduce New Jersey’s landfills, the states solid waste statues will preempt the ordinance. Cecil went on to say “On the other hand, reducing litter and controlling pollution of waterways fall within a municipality’s general police powers. Therefore, if the purpose of the ordinance is to reduce the amount of litter on Princeton’s streets or in Princeton’s storm drains and sewers, or to reduce water pollution, then Princeton would have the authority to adopt the regulation, provided the facts demonstrate that single-use bags pose a local — as opposed to national or international — problem.”
Retail establishments will be required to charge a minimum of 10 cents for every plastic bag that leaves the store under the proposed ordinance. The retailers will retain the fees collected and can use them pay for bags as well as help with their cost of keeping records.
Liz Lempet, Mayor of Princeton has said that the town will likely not “pick this up for at least the next couple of months,” and went on to say “My reading of the opinion indicated that the next step, if we decide to move forward, would be to do so with some sort of analysis on what the issues are in Princeton,” she said. “There would need to be discussion at the council level.”
It will take 6 months for the ordinance to take effect. The estimated time needed for the ordinance to be passed and adopted by the council. This will also allow retailer to get the proper signage in place for the citizens of Princeton to be educated on the new ordinance.