Plastic Pollution (Pollution)

Plastic bags have become ubiquitous, and are taking a toll on our environment and our economy. According to the EPA, between 500 billion and a trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year, and each of those bags is used for an average of 12 minutes. NJ residents use 4.4 billion plastic bags each year. These bags, which never fully break down, end up in our landfills, parks, beaches, along roadways, parking lots, and in our waterways. Disposable bags are harmful, wasteful, and unnecessary. People around the world are now choosing a sustainable alternative; reusable bags.

As of November 4, 2020,  Governor Murphy signed into law the Plastic Pollution Reduction Act.  Starting May 2022, both plastic and paper single-use bags, as well as disposable food containers and cups made out of polystyrene foam, will be banned, with some exemptions (bags wrapping raw meat, polystyrene butcher trays, produce bags, newspaper bags, dry cleaning bags, prescription bags and bags holding fish or insects from pet stores).   Stores less than 2,500 square feet can still provide paper bags.  The new law also restricts food-service businesses from handing out plastic straws, unless specifically requested by a customer, beginning in November 2021.  ANJEC is here to provide additional guidance on the newly passed  Law as well as resources and tools to fight plastic pollution in your municipality.

Brownfields (Pollution)

A brownfield is a property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.  These sites that have been contaminated and cleaned can be used for various land uses.  For more info on remediating and redeveloping brownfields click here.

Remediating and Redeveloping Brownfields in NJ

Remediating and Redeveloping Brownfields in New Jersey
A Guide for Municipalities and Community Organizations

Brownfields are found across the Garden State in urban, suburban and rural communities. Many of us drive or walk past them every day. Like many unoccupied properties, brownfields may contain deteriorating buildings with broken glass and litter, becoming unsafe places for children to congregate or an eyesore for the neighborhood. This guide will examine the activities and laws that are involved in transforming brownfields into productive neighborhood assets.

A brownfield is a property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. (Note:
Brownfields are a large class of properties, not to be confused with Superfund/National Priority List sites. Superfund sites generally have more complex or dangerous contamination problems and are overseen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). The 220+ Superfund sites in New Jersey, in various stages of assessment, cleanup, delisting or monitoring, are listed on the EPA’s website at www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/.)

Common examples of brownfield properties are former manufacturing, processing or transportation facilities, dumps, gas stations, dry cleaners, and many others. The possible or actual  contamination complicates the brownfield property owner’s ability to expand, redevelop, or reuse the site. The unknown extent of the contamination, and therefore the liability and cleanup costs, make the property unattractive to potential buyers and redevelopers.

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Fracking (Pollution)

Hydraulic fracturing (hydrofracking) produces fractures in rock formations (thousands of feet below the surface) by pumping large quantities of fluids at high pressure down vertical and horizontal wellbores in order to extract natural gas or oil.  The hydraulic fracturing fluid consists of water, proppant (sand, ceramic pellets) and chemical additives including volatile organic chemicals and carcinogens like benzene, methyl benzene, and formaldehyde.

Once the injection process is completed, the internal pressure of the rock formation causes fluid to return to the surface through the wellbore. This “flowback” or “produced water” may contain the injected chemicals plus naturally occurring materials such as brines, metals, radionuclides, and hydrocarbons.

Environmental hazards associated with fracking includes air pollution, ground water and surface water contamination, wastewater disposal concerns, shrinking water supplies, potential earthquakes, and habitat loss.  The Delaware River Basin Commission has proposed draft rules banning hydrofracking that have yet to be implemented.

At least three New Jersey municipalities have enacted ordinances banning fracking and dozens of NJ communities have passed resolutions opposing the dangerous consequences of hydrofracking.

Climate Change (Pollution)

Climate change is happening now and is affecting New Jersey with heavier rains, warmer temperatures, and more coastal flooding, and these trends are expected to continue through this century.  Municipalities in NJ and around the US are finding innovative ideas and programs to combat climate change by becoming more resilient.  A number of municipalities have aggressive Climate Action Plans including  Princeton, Hoboken and Trenton with Jersey City under way in developing one.  These plans can be used as models for your community.

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