Plastic bag ban begins as second phase of NJ legislation takes effect

Starting May 4, retailers and foodservice businesses in New Jersey will no longer be allowed to use or distribute single-use plastic bags, according to a bill passed by Gov. Phil Murphy and other lawmakers. . Last year.

The multi-phased bill targets plastic pollution caused by New Jersey’s retail and restaurant industries. Its first phase, which implemented a partial ban on plastic straws, has been actively enforced since November 4. Princeton’s health officer and Deputy Administrator Jeff Grosser reported a high level of compliance with this part of the new law in email correspondences obtained by The Daily Princetonian. .

In addition to the new “bag banthe bill’s second wave of regulations will ban disposable styrofoam cups and food containers. Additionally, while paper bags will be permitted in small convenience stores and grocery stores, establishments larger than 2,500 square feet will require customers to provide their own reusable bags or purchase them on site.

In a written statement to “The Prince,” Council Member and Environmental Commission Liaison Eve Niedergang explained how these new policies will be maintained within the Municipality of Princeton.

“Food inspectors will conduct compliance checks when inspecting premises that serve food…Our fire safety inspectors will check for compliance with the new law when interacting with establishments that do not serve food” , she wrote.

Establishments found in violation of the ban will receive a warning on their first violation, a fine of up to $1,000 per day of violation for a second violation, and a fine of up to $5,000 per day for a third offence.

The municipality will retain up to 30% of fines collected from offenders. Niedergang, however, clarified that “our goal is to achieve compliance through education rather than imposing fines.”

She also shared preventive measures carried out by environmental groups in the city of Princeton. Sustainable Princeton and the Princeton Environmental Commission took charge of preparing the local business community, alerting them to impending changes before they took effect.

In anticipation of this policy, small food outlets on the Princeton University campus, such as the Frist Campus Center convenience store and the U-Store, began handing out paper bags to customers as early as the Thursday, April 28.

the Princeton Conservation Society (PCS), a student-led environmental activism group, has expressed support for University suppliers making these preventative changes and for the policy as a whole.

In a joint comment, Group President Mae Kennedy ’24 and Vice President Spencer Koonin ’24 said “New Jersey’s plastic ban demonstrates tangible and widespread implementation of action.”

“Political positions such as these bring environmental issues to the forefront of politicians’ desk discussions and table conversations,” they wrote in an email to the “Prince.” “By banning the use of plastic bags, straws and polystyrene containers, our reliance on extremely harmful single-use products is being disrupted.”

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However, PCS has criticized aspects of the legislation, pointing out that low-income establishments, which may struggle to provide often more expensive alternatives to plastic, may suffer disproportionately from the high fines imposed by the law. They also expressed dissatisfaction with the government’s promotion of all reusable bags, as many are made with unsustainable materials.

Princeton residents can report bag ban violations in line or through the municipality’s app, which will introduce a new option to notify authorities of non-compliant stores in the coming weeks.

Tess Weinreich is a news writer and feature contributor for the “Prince”. She can be reached at tw7353@princeton.edu.

Bryce K. Locke