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Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. (Photo: NJ Globe file photo).

Most residents back plastic bag ban

New Jerseyans haven’t solidified their positions, Monmouth poll finds

By Nikita Biryukov, September 30 2019 11:56 am

A Monmouth University poll released Monday found most New Jersey residents would back a ban on plastic bags, but they aren’t decided on how that ban would look.

Close to two-thirds, 65%, of respondents told pollsters they would support a ban on single-use plastic bags — 29% opposed such a ban — but the numbers shifted when residents were asked about their stance in further detail.

Less than a third, 31%, backed a complete ban on plastic bags, while 27% said consumers should pay a small fee if they want a plastic bag.  The remaining 39% said stores should be able to continue providing plastic bags for free.

“This is one of the problems with gauging opinion on an issue the public has not really given a lot of thought.  The ultimate goal may seem worthy at first, but support wanes a bit when people consider how it might affect them in its implementation,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth Polling Institute.

Almost all New Jersey residents, 89%, said ocean pollution caused by plastic products was a very serious or somewhat serios problem, with similar numbers of residents in the state’s coastal, 61%, and inland, 64%, counties calling the problem very serious.

The issue was subject to a degree of partisanship. Three-quarters of Democratic respondents called the issue very serious, while 47% of Republicans said the same. A little under two-thirds, 61%, of independents called plastic pollution of the state’s oceans very serious.

“While the widespread, serious concern about plastic marine pollution reflects the importance the New Jerseyans place on clean water and oceans, there is still a significant disconnect from the need to take personal action when it infringes on the convenience and low cost of plastics in our throw-away society,” said Tony MacDonald, director of the Urban Coast Institute at Monmouth University.

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