By Cleve Bryan


BRIGANTINE, N.J. (CBS) – New Jersey is saying bye, bye, bye to plastic bags on Saturday. Three shore towns – Brigantine, Avalon and Stone Harbor are now kicking the single-use bags to the curb.

They’re cheap and light, but disposable plastic bags can also be deadly.

The Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor provided CBS3 a picture of an osprey that recently got tangled up in a plastic bag for almost a whole day.

(Credit: Wetlands Institute)

It was fortunate to survive, but other sea creates do not and the problem has only gotten worse.

“When they get in the marine environment, they cause a lot of problems for wildlife,” Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor executive director Lenore Tedesco said. “The estimates are that we’ve produced more than half the plastics on the planet in the last 15 years and they just don’t degrade.”

A single use plastic bag is worth several minutes of convenience but can last for 200 years as a nuisance.

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Starting this weekend, Stone Harbor, Avalon and Brigantine will join the growing list of Jersey Shore towns banning stores from handing out plastic bags.

“Essentially it’s an elimination of single-use plastics and products that are dangerous to the marine environment,” Avalon business administrator Scott Wahl said.

From now on, it’s either paper or reusable cloth bags and stores that violate the protocol could face up to $500 fines.

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Avalon and Stone Harbor are also banning plastic straws, foam carry-out containers and any disposable utensils unless they can be recycled.

“I’m very excited about it because I’ve seen the damage it’s done to the animals,” Sandy Anderson, of Brigantine, said.

“I mean, I’m all for saving the environment, but I got to be honest, it’s a little bit of an inconvenience,” Nikki Dawson, of Brigantine, said. “I guess I’ll start to bring my own bags.”

Health officials say this summer is about educating the public and stores about the plastic bags.

They will not be quick to hand out the fines, but will increase as time goes on, officials say.