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Beginning January 2020, The Borough of Paramus will be banning single use plastic carry-out bags. This ordinance, 19-16 passed by the Mayor and Council will be enforced by the Health Department and Quality of Life department come January. The ordinance in its entirety can be found here: Ordinance 19-16. For further information, please feel free to contact the Board of Health. 201-265-2100 Ext: 2300
COUNTY OF BERGEN
BOROUGH OF PARAMUS
RETAIL PLASTIC BAGS AND POLYSTYRENE FOAM
The Paramus Code is hereby amended to contain a new chapter, Chapter 453, titled
“Retail Plastic Bags and Polystyrene Foam.”
Section 453-1. Legislative findings and authority.
A. On average, one person uses 500 single-use disposable plastic bags per year, 4
billion single-use shopping bags are used annually in New Jersey, and 102 billion
are used nationwide; and,
B. In the ocean, plastic bags are broken down into tiny pieces that cannot be
digested by marine life. Micro-plastic pollution in oceans can accumulate toxic
chemicals, harms marine life, and enters the human food chain.
C. 2 million barrels of oil are used annually to make the plastic bags that Americans
D. Approximately less than 1 percent (1%) of plastic bags are recycled. Most plastic
bags are made from polyethylene, which takes centuries to degrade. Each ton of
recycled plastic bags saves the energy equivalent of 11 barrels of oil.
E. Paramus desires to reduce the use of single-use plastic bags by all residents and
F. Polystyrene foam (sometimes called Styrofoam, a Dow Chemical Co. trademarked
form of polystyrene foam insulation) contains styrene, a known neurotoxin and
suspected carcinogen, which can leach from polystyrene foam disposable food
service ware and packaging into food and drink, which potentially threatens human
G. The general public is not typically warned of any potential hazard with
H. Expanded polystyrene foam, the type used in most disposable food service
products, cannot be recycled and takes 500 years to decompose.
I. Billions of polystyrene foam cups are used yearly in convenience stores,
restaurants and lunchrooms ending up in landfills. Polystyrene foam and
polystyrene foam products fill up approximately thirty percent (30%) of landfill
space in America.
J. If not disposed of properly, polystyrene foam products and plastic bags are blown
into local woods and streams, affecting wildlife and marine life. According to a 2016
study by NY/NJ Baykeeper, polystyrene foam makes up thirty-eight percent (38%)
of all plastic pollution in the Hackensack River.
K. Paramus residents understand that reusable bags consume far less energy and
natural resources than single use plastic carry-out bags and recyclable paper carryout
bags, when used as intended, and that polystyrene foam products are easily
replaceable with recyclable or compostable alternatives such as recycled paper cups.
L. Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:48-2, a municipality in New Jersey may enact such
ordinances “as it may deem necessary and proper for the good government, order
and protection of persons and property, and for the preservation of the public
health, safety and welfare of the municipality and its inhabitants.” Regulating the
retail use of plastic bags and polystyrene foam will preserve the current and future
public health, safety, and welfare of Paramus by protecting natural resources and
encouraging environmental sustainability.
Section 453-2. Definitions.
The following definitions apply to this chapter:
A. The term “customer” means any person purchasing goods or services.
B. The term “operator” means the person in control of, or having the responsibility
for, the operation of a retail establishment or retail food vendor, which may include,
but is not limited to, the owner of the retail establishment or retail food vendor.
C. The term “person” means any natural person, firm, corporation, partnership,
trust, joint stock company, association, or other organization or group however
D. The term “single use plastic carry-out bag” means any bag made predominantly
of plastic derived from either petroleum or a biologically-based source, such as corn
or plant sources, that is provided by an operator of a retail establishment or retail
food vendor to a customer at the point of sale. The term includes compostable and
biodegradable bags but specifically exempts the following from the category of
“Single Use Plastic Carry-out Bags”: reusable bags, produce bags, and product bags.
E. The term “reusable bag” means any sewn bag made of cloth or other washable
fabric with stitched handles that are specifically designed and manufactured for
multiple reuse and meets all of the following additional requirements:
(1) it is machine-washable or is made from a material that can be cleaned or
(2) it does not contain lead, cadmium, or any other heavy metal in toxic
amounts, as defined by applicable state and federal standards and regulations; and
(3) it is affixed with a statement that the bag is a reusable bag, as well as
recycling instructions if the bag is recyclable.
F. The term “produce bag” or “product bag” means a very thin bag without handles
used exclusively to carry produce, meats, or other items to the point of sale inside a
retail establishment or, for reasons of public health and safety, to prevent such
items from coming into direct contact with other purchased items:
(1) “produce bags” are bags to:
a. package bulk items, such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, candies,
or small hardware items;
b. contain or wrap frozen foods, meat, or fish, whether packaged or not;
c. contain or wrap flowers, potted plants, or other items where
dampness may be an issue; contain unwrapped prepared foods or bakery
d. pharmacy prescription bags.
(2) “product bags” are newspaper bags, door-hanger bags, laundry, and/or
dry-cleaning bags, or bags sold in packages containing multiple bags intended for
use as food storage bags, garbage bags, yard waste bags, or pet waste bags.
G. The term “compliant bag” means recyclable paper carry-out bags and reusable
H. The term “recyclable paper carry-out bag” means a paper bag that meets all of
the following minimum requirements:
(1) it is one hundred percent (100%) recyclable overall and contains a
minimum of forty percent (40%) post-consumer recycled material;
(2) it can be composted; and
(3) it displays the words “recyclable” and/or “reusable” in a highly visible
manner on the outside of the bag.
I. The term “post-consumer recycled material” means a bag constructed of a
material that would otherwise be destined for solid waste disposal, having
completed its intended end-use and product life cycle. “Post-consumer recycled
material” does not include materials and by-products generated from, and
commonly reused within, an original manufacturing and fabrication process.
J. The term “recyclable” means material that can be sorted, cleansed, and
reconstituted using available recycling collection programs for the purpose of
reusing the altered, incinerated, converted, or otherwise thermally destroyed solid
waste generated therefrom.
K. The term “retail establishment” means any store or commercial establishment
that sells perishable or nonperishable goods including, but not limited to, clothing,
food, and personal items directly to the customer and is located and/or doing
business within the geographical limits of Paramus. Retail establishments include:
a business establishment that generates a sales or use-tax; a drug store, pharmacy,
supermarket, grocery store, convenience food store, food mall, or other commercial
entity engaged in the retail sale of a limited line of goods that include milk, bread,
soda, and snack foods; a public eating establishment (i.e., a restaurant, take-out
food establishment, or any other business that prepares and sells prepared food to
be eaten on or off its premises); and a business establishment that sells clothing, a
hardware store, or any other non-perishable goods. “Retail establishment” does not
include non-profit charitable re-users as defined in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal
Revenue Code, or a distinct operating unit or division of the charitable organization
that reuses and recycles donated goods or materials and receives more than fifty
percent (50%) of its revenues from the handling and sale of those donated goods or
L. The term “retail food vendor” means all sales outlets, stores, shops, restaurants,
parts of retail establishments, or other places of business located and/or doing
business in Paramus that receive revenue through the sales or conveyances of foods
directly to the ultimate customer, which foods are predominantly contained,
wrapped or held in or on packaging. “Retail food vendors” shall include, but not be
limited to, any establishment where food is prepared, mixed, cooked, baked,
smoked, preserved, bottled, packaged, handled, stored, manufactured, and sold or
offered for sale, including but not limited to any fixed or mobile restaurant, drive-in,
coffee shop, cafeteria, short order cafe, fast-food outlet, delicatessen, luncheonette,
grill, sandwich shop, soda fountain, tavern, bar, cocktail lounge, nightclub, inn,
roadside stand, takeout prepared food place, industrial feeding establishment,
catering kitchen, grocery store, public food market, food stand, cart, pushcart,
vehicle, mobile unit or similar place in which food or drink is prepared for sale or for
service on the premises or elsewhere and any other establishment or operation,
including homes where food is processed, prepared, stored, served or provided to the
public for charge. This definition includes any department or unit of the Borough of
Paramus and the government of Paramus shall comply with this ordinance to the
same extent as any other “retail food vendor.”
M. The term “packaging” shall include disposable food service ware and packaging,
reusable food service ware and packaging, and degradable packaging.
N. The term “disposable food service ware and packaging” means all food-related
wrappings, including but not limited to bags, sacks, wrappings, containers, closures,
bowls, plates, trays, cartons, cups, lids, or drinking utensils intended for use within
Paramus, but excluding straws and eating utensils, that are intended by the
manufacturer to be used once for eating or drinking or that are generally recognized
by the public as items to be discarded after one use.
O. The term “reusable food service ware and packaging” means all food-related
wrappings, containers, service items, and utensils designed for multiple use
including but not limited to straws, napkins, cutlery, utensils, baskets, plates,
bowls, ramekins, trays, mugs, glasses, condiment dispensers, to-go containers, and
cups or other containers provided as part of a loyalty or discount program.
P. The term “degradable packaging” means packaging made of cellulose-based
substances or other substances which are capable of being readily attached,
decomposed, assimilated, and/or otherwise completely oxidized or broken down into
its constituent parts by bacteria, natural biological organisms, carbonaceous soil
material, water, carbon dioxide; or in the alternative capable of otherwise degrading
when exposed to ultraviolet light or other natural processes beginning within a
twelve-month period from the date of manufacture or exposure to the environment.
Q. The term “food” shall include both food and drink, raw food, and prepared food,
whether such food is provided free of charge or sold, unless otherwise stated.
R. The term “raw food” means food or beverages which are served, packaged,
cooked, chopped, sliced, mixed, brewed, frozen, squeezed or otherwise sold on the
food vendor's premises or within Paramus. For the purposes of this ordinance, raw
food includes meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and vegetables on trays made, in whole or in
part, from polystyrene foam either as separate items or as part of the sale to
customers from a refrigerator case or similar retail appliance.
S. The term “prepared food” means food or beverages which are served, packaged,
cooked, chopped, sliced, mixed, brewed, frozen, squeezed, or otherwise prepared on
the food vendor's premises or within Paramus. For the purposes of this ordinance,
prepared food includes food which may be eaten on or off the premises, including
T. The term “polystyrene foam” means and includes blown polystyrene and
expanded and extruded foams (sometimes called Styrofoam, a Dow Chemical Co.
trademarked form of polystyrene foam insulation) which are thermoplastic
petrochemical materials utilizing a styrene monomer and processed by any number
of techniques including, but not limited to, fusion of polymer spheres (expandable
bead polystyrene), injection molding, foam molding, and extrusion-blow molding
(extruded foam polystyrene). Polystyrene foam is generally used to make cups,
bowls, plates, trays, clamshell containers, meat trays and egg cartons. The term
“polystyrene foam” includes “polyethylene foam,” which is a closed-cell foam made of
millions of tiny bubbles sealed off from each other.
U. The term “compostable” means all materials in the product or package are
capable of undergoing biological decomposition or otherwise becoming part of a
usable compost (e.g., soil conditioning material or mulch) in a safe and timely
manner in an appropriate composting program or facility. Compostable disposable
food service ware and packaging includes ASTM-Standard bio-plastics or plasticlike
products that are clearly labeled, such that any compost collector and processor
can easily distinguish the ASTM-Standard compostable plastic from non ASTMStandard
V. The term “ASTM-Standard” means meeting the standards of the American
Society for Testing and Materials International Standards D6400 or D6868 for
biodegradable and compostable plastics, as those standards may be amended.
Section 453-3. Prohibition on Single-Use Plastic Carry-Out Bags.
No retail establishment shall provide to any customer a single use plastic carry-out
bag, as defined in section 453-2 above. This prohibition applies to bags provided for
the purpose of carrying goods away from the point of sale and does not apply to: (a)
product bags; or (b) or to produce bags used to carry produce within the retail
establishment to the point of sale. The prohibition applies to single use plastic
carry-out bags used for take-out deliveries from retail establishments within
Paramus. The point of sale in such transactions is deemed to be at the retail
establishment, regardless of where payment for the transaction physically occurs.
Section 453-4. Fees for Compliant Bags; Use of Reusable Bags Encouraged.
A. All retail establishments shall make available to customers compliant bags, as
defined herein, for the purpose of carrying goods or other materials away from the
point of sale.
B. Nothing in this ordinance prohibits customers from using bags of any type that
they choose to bring to retail establishments themselves, in lieu of using bags
available for a fee from the retail establishment, or from carrying away goods that
are not placed in a bag.
C. All retail establishments must provide customers with compliant bags, upon
request, if customers fail to bring their own bags.
G. A retail establishment may choose, in its discretion, to provide a credit to
customers that choose to bring their own bags.
H. Each retail establishment shall be strongly encouraged to educate its staff to
promote the use of reusable bags and to post signs encouraging customers to use
reusable bags rather than recyclable paper carry-out bags.
I. A retail establishment is strongly encouraged to educate on plastic bag and
plastic film recycling and offer a take back program.
Section 453-5. Potential Exemptions from Section 453-3 and 453-4.
A. The Governing Body, in consultation with the Paramus Environmental
Commission, may approve a request for an exemption from the requirements of this
B. Exemption decisions are effective upon approval and are final and not
appealable, except otherwise required by law.
C. Any specific requirement of this ordinance waived or exempted per section 453-5
B. shall be waived or exempted for a period of not more than one year. A person
granted an exemption must re-apply prior to the end of the one-year exemption
period. The Paramus Environmental Commission shall be consulted on all such
D. The fee for exemption requests is $100.
Section 453-6. Polystyrene Foam Prohibited At Point of Sale for Food
A. No retail establishment or retail food vendor located and/or doing business in
Paramus shall sell or convey prepared food directly to the ultimate customer within
Paramus unless such food is placed, wrapped, or packaged in degradable packaging
at the conclusion of the sales transaction. For the purposes of this section,
“conclusion of the sales transaction” shall be the point of time at which the
possession of the food product passes from the retail food vendor to the ultimate
customer, and the conclusion of the sales transaction need not require the actual
payment of consideration for such food product; provided, however, payment is
expected from the ultimate customer prior to the customer exiting the premises of
the retail food vendor.
B. No retail establishment or retail food vendor located and/or doing business in
Paramus shall sell, offer for sale, give, provide, or otherwise distribute prepared
food and/or raw food in disposable food service ware and packaging to any customer
within Paramus if said packaging is composed of polystyrene foam. Straws and
utensils are exempt from this section.
C. All Paramus facilities, Paramus-managed concessions, Borough of Paramus
sponsored events, and Paramus permitted events are prohibited from using
polystyrene foam disposable food service ware and packaging. This prohibition shall
apply to the event organizers, agents of the event organizers, event food vendors
and any other party, including nonprofit organizations, who enter into an
agreement with one or more of the co-sponsors of the event to distribute prepared
food at the event or otherwise provide an event-related service.
D. Borough of Paramus departments are prohibited from purchasing polystyrene
foam disposable food service ware and packaging.
Section 453-7. Required recyclable or compostable disposable food service
ware and packaging.
A. All retail food vendors using any disposable food service ware and packaging
shall use recyclable or compostable disposable food service ware and packaging
unless it can be shown that a recyclable or compostable product is not available for
a specific application.
B. All disposable food service ware and packaging sold, offered for sale, or otherwise
distributed within Paramus, shall be recyclable or compostable.
C. Retail food vendors are strongly encouraged to use reusable food service ware
D. Nothing in this ordinance prohibits customers from using reusable food service
ware and packaging of any type that they choose to bring to retail food vendors
themselves, in lieu of using disposable food service ware and packaging.
E. All Paramus Facilities, Paramus-managed concessions, Paramus sponsored
events, and Paramus permitted events using any disposable food service ware and
packaging shall use recyclable or compostable disposable food service ware and
F. Paramus departments using any disposable food service ware and packaging
shall use recyclable or compostable disposable food service ware and packaging.
Section 453-8. Exemption from Sections 453-6 and 453-7.
A. Sections 453-6 and 453-7 shall not apply to the following items:
(1) Any flexible transparent covering for raw food (including uncooked or raw
meat, poultry, raw fish, hard cheese, cold cuts, fruit and vegetable produce), baked
goods or bread.
(2) Any disposable food service ware and packaging used at hospitals or
(3) Any plastic covers, covering materials, food containers, lids, eating
utensils, straws or other materials that are not made of polystyrene foam.
(4) Situations where compliance with the requirements of this ordinance
would deprive a person of a legally protected right.
B. The Paramus borough administrator, in consultation with the Paramus
Environmental Commission, may exempt an item or type of packaging from the
requirements of this section, upon a showing that the item or type has no acceptable
equivalent and that imposing the requirements on that item or type would cause
undue hardship. Any such exemption or denial of an exemption must be submitted
to the Governing Body within 14 days and the Governing Body may overrule it.
(1) In order to be considered for such exemption, the vendor shall provide the
(a) A list of suppliers contacted and statements signed by said
suppliers listing the items that can be supplied which clearly indicates that
the item or type of packaging has no acceptable equivalent or substitute;
(b) A statement signed by said retail food vendor indicating that it is
required to purchase disposable food service ware and packaging pursuant to
a contract entered into prior to September 1, 2019, and said supplier is
unable to supply an item or type that has no acceptable equivalent. Said
statement shall be accompanied by a certified copy of the contract in
question, and shall indicate the expiration date of said contract.
C. Any specific requirement of this ordinance waived or exempted per section 453-8
period and demonstrate that the item or type still has no acceptable equivalent or
substitute and that imposing the requirements on that item or type would continue
to cause undue hardship if the person wishes to have the exemption extended. The
Paramus Environmental Commission shall be consulted on all such applications.
Section 453-9. Enforcement and Penalties.
A. The health officer and the quality of life officer have authority to enforce this
ordinance, including, but not limited to, investigating violations, inspecting any
retail establishment or retail food vendor's premises to verify compliance, and
B. Any retail establishment or retail food vendor that violates or fails to comply
with any of the requirements of this ordinance after an initial written warning
notice has been issued for that violation shall be liable for a subsequent infraction.
C. If a retail establishment or retail food vendor has subsequent violations of this
ordinance after the issuance of an initial written warning notice of a violation, the
following penalties will be imposed and shall be payable by the operator of the retail
establishment or retail food vendor:
(1) a fine not exceeding one hundred dollars ($100.00) for the first violation
after the written warning notice is given;
(2) a fine not exceeding two hundred dollars ($200.00) for the second violation
after the written warning notice is given; or
(3) a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500.00) for the third and any
subsequent violations after the written warning notice is given.
D. A fine shall be imposed for each day a violation occurs or is allowed to continue.
Section 453-10. Effective Date, Ramp-Up Period, and Guidance to
A. This ordinance shall take effect January 1, 2020.
B. The period from passage and publication to effective date shall be known as the
“ramp-up period.” During the ramp-up period, the Paramus Environmental
Commission and other Paramus officials shall hold community events and
informational sessions to aid the public and businesses in preparing to comply with
the ordinance. During the ramp-up period, Paramus (through the Paramus
Environmental Commission or otherwise) shall provide for “compliant bag”
giveaways to members of the public (not in bulk to businesses). The total
appropriation for these giveaways to members of the public during the ramp-up
period shall not exceed $1,000 unless increased by the Governing Body.
C. As of September 15, 2019, the Paramus Environmental Commission shall display
in a prominent place at Paramus Borough Hall the types of materials permitted and
prohibited by this ordinance, with easily understood labels. To the extent
practicable, Paramus shall codify an addendum to this ordinance with pictures and
labels of permitted and prohibited materials with as much identifying information
as possible in order to make this ordinance as easily understood as possible.
Section 453-11. Construction of this ordinance.
A. Nothing in this ordinance is intended to create any requirement, power, or duty
that is in conflict with any federal or state law and shall not be construed as such.
B. All ordinances or parts thereof in conflict or inconsistent with this ordinance are
repealed, but only to the extent of such conflict or inconsistency.
C. The provisions of this ordinance are severable; if any section, subsection,
sentence, clause, or phrase thereof for any reason be held to be invalid or
unconstitutional by a court of competent jurisdiction, such decision shall not affect
the validity of the remaining sections, subsections, sentences, clauses, and phrases
of this ordinance, but shall remain in effect.
ANNEMARIE KRUSZNIS, RMC RICHARD A. LaBARBIER