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The Senate Environment and Energy Committee this week took testimony on a bill that would require producers of packaging products and manufacturers that use packaging materials to develop a stewardship plan – that would need to be approved by the state Department of Environmental Protection – to help manage, collect, transport, recycle, reuse of dispose of those products. 

One of the main goals of bill S-426, sponsored by Sen. Bob Smith (D-17), is to reduce the material in single-use packaging, especially plastic, by at least 25% by 2032. 

The Packaging Product Stewardship Act was first introduced last summer and was only heard for discussion on Monday. 

NJBIA Deputy Chief of Government Affairs Ray Cantor told the committee that with the continuing issues from the ban of single-use plastic bags, as well as mandates for more recycled content without completed rules, this newer bill would be even more challenging to pull off. 

“Through this legislation, you’re trying to re-do an entire structure,” Cantor said. “That is a very worthwhile goal. But there are a lot of other irons in the fire.  

“DEP has not even come up with their food waste recycling regulations. They have not come up with their dirty dirt regulations. We’re just beginning to have stakeholder meetings on recycled content. And it was a multiple-hour meeting just on small aspects of it. 

“I and others left that meeting overwhelmed by the complexity of trying to regulate hundreds of thousands of products that are coming into New Jersey that all might have their own individual stories and aspects to it.” 

Several environmentalists and supporters of the bill maintained that the bill doesn’t do enough to address plastic pollution, while industry groups said it would be too expensive, too soon and too difficult to implement and enforce. 

“I’m not at all saying we shouldn’t be moving in this direction,” Cantor said. “I’m saying we appreciate doing this for consideration only and we continue to have this dialogue to try to do it right. Let’s not rush to a solution where we’re ultimately back here doing a fix-it bill. Let’s try to do it right the first time.”