Plastic Bag Ban in New Jersey: What You Need to Know

New Jersey’s plastic bag ban went into effect Wednesday.

Governor Phil Murphy signed the bill banning single-use plastic bags and other items in November 2020.

In a Releasethe governor’s office called the legislation, S864the nation’s “strictest” bag ban, as it also bans single-use paper bags from all stores and catering businesses in the state.

MAJOR BRANDS CALL FOR A GLOBAL PACT TO REDUCE PLASTIC PRODUCTION

“Plastic bags are one of the most problematic forms of waste, resulting in millions of discarded bags pouring into our landfills, rivers and oceans each year,” Governor Murphy said in a November 2020 statement. “With the signing of today’s landmark bill, we are tackling the problem of plastic pollution head-on with solutions that will help mitigate climate change and strengthen our environment for future generations.”

The “Bag Up NJ” Campaign – the New Jersey Clean Communities Council’s new single-use plastic and paper bag ban awareness campaign – Noted that papermaking requires large inputs of water, energy, chemicals and wood and produces various wastes and emissions that need to be controlled or treated.

A woman walks with plastic bags (iStock/iStock)

“In addition, paper bags require ten times more trucks to deliver the same amount of bags, leading to increased truck traffic and diesel emissions,” they said.

Disposable food containers and Styrofoam cups are also banned and catering businesses were only allowed to supply single-use plastic straws on request from November 2021.

However, there are some exceptions.

According to New Jersey Department of Environmental Protectionit is permitted to supply or sell single-use paper bags, except in grocery stores with an area equal to or greater than 2,500 square feet.

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Additionally, some products were listed as exempt for an additional two years after May 2022.

These items include disposable long-handled styrofoam soda spoons, portion cups under 2 ounces used for hot foods or foods that require lids, meat and fish trays for raw meat or butcher shop sold from a refrigerator or similar retail device, any food product prepackaged by the manufacturer with a polystyrene foam foodservice product and any other polystyrene foam foodservice product as determined required by the Department of Environmental Protection.

The effort would tackle pollution in the state.

According to Bag Up NJ, the bill calls for the Department of State and the state Department of Environmental Protection to establish a program to help businesses comply.

There are also penalties, with a warning for a first offense, a second offense of up to $1,000, and a third or subsequent offense of up to $5,000.

“Penalties for violations will be deposited into the Clean Communities Program Fund, except that a municipality may retain 30% of any penalty it collects,” the campaign said.

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NJ.com reported Thursday that most grocery stores announced plans to distribute a new set of reusable bags with every online grocery order, although some big-box stores said they would not use any type of bag.

The outlet noted that community groups are working to provide free bags to people who need them.

In August 2014, California became the first state to pass statewide legislation banning single-use plastic bags in large retail stores, and several states have similar bans in place.

Bryce K. Locke