New Jersey lawmakers consider changing plastic bag ban because reusable bag plan poses ‘problem’
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New Jersey lawmakers are considering changing the state’s ban on stores handing out single-use plastic bags due to residents hoarding large numbers of reusable bags — which are often only used once. one time.
“I keep them in the basement,” New Jersey mom Katiuska Tejada-Rivera told NJ Advance Media. “I have another bag by the door in case I go out to the farmer’s market. Most of them are new, even with the tag on them. I use them once but don’t throw them away.”
It’s an issue that has plagued shoppers across the state — whether or not they wholeheartedly supported the ban — since the law went into effect May 4. Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy celebrated signing the ban in 2020 as a way to address plastic pollution.
“Plastic bags are one of the most problematic forms of waste, resulting in millions of discarded bags pouring into our landfills, rivers and oceans every year,” Murphy said at the time. “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.”
Now some shoppers are describing having stocks of reusable bags, prompting lawmakers to consider changing the ban.
“The only issue we’ve had so far (during the ban) is the fact that home grocery delivery has been interpreted to mean you have to do it in a reusable bag and what happens , is that the number of these bags is piling up with customers,” Senator Bob Smith, co-sponsor of the plastic bag ban bill, told NJ Advance Media. “We know it’s a problem. We agree that’s a problem.”
Some of the proposed solutions include: requiring home grocery deliveries to use cardboard boxes or paper bags.
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“Help is on the way because we don’t want to see these reusable bags piling up in customers’ homes,” Smith said.
He added: “We will listen to everyone and any solutions they have.”
A South Jersey grocery chef, Chris Mentzer, operations manager at Rastelli Market Fresh, said he would like to see paper bags used for online orders.
“We’ve had customers come in with stacks of bags 30, 40 deep like, ‘Here can you please reuse them?’ And we can’t,” Mentzer told ABC 6, noting that the store cannot accept used bags for sanitary reasons.
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Murphy’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment on the matter.
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection said in a statement to ABC 6 that it will work to find ways to promote the reuse of reusable bags.
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“While curbside and delivery services have grown significantly between the passage and implementation of the law, the Department intends to work with stakeholders and through the Plastics Advisory Council to find innovative ways that would promote the reuse of these bags,” the department said.