Wirths’ post on social media shows support for single-use plastic and paper bags

Wirths’ post on social media shows support for single-use plastic and paper bags

TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblyman Hal Wirths shared a photo to his Facebook page from a supermarket in Franklin that announced it was discontinuing reusable bags to limit the exposure to germs from outside sources.

The lawmaker praised the move as studies have shown that the bags harbor dangerous bacteria and can cross contaminate other surfaces. He also said legislation that bans single-use plastic and paper bags, as well as Styrofoam takeout containers, should be stopped out of a concern for the public’s health. The bill (S864), which passed the Senate on March 5, is currently waiting to be heard in an Assembly committee.

“This is reckless legislation that could bring unintended health consequences, especially now, but also in the future,” said Wirths (R-Sussex). “We may not be able to predict another pandemic, but we can take measures to protect the public’s health.”

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health researchers shows the coronavirus could live up to two to three days on plastic or steel. Another study found that it could can stay on surfaces for as long as nine days.

“We know New Jerseyans are dying from the coronavirus, we know the virus can live on surfaces, and that people have become ill because of reusable grocery bags,” said Wirths. “What remains questionable are the actual environmental benefits of these bags. We cannot prioritize anything over people’s lives.”

The actions taken by the supermarket reinforce a message sent yesterday by Assemblyman John DiMaio, who urged food stores to temporarily ban the use of reusable bags.

“Reusable bags can inadvertently carry disease from home to the market. We don’t need to be risking people’s lives any more than is already happening,” said DiMaio (R-Warren). “Using plastic and paper now should probably be a requirement, not a choice.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, the number of coronavirus cases in the state jumped to 3,675 with 44 deaths.