NJ’s strict plastic bag ban goes into effect in a month

In a month, one of the toughest plastic bag bans in the country will go into effect.

Starting May 4, stores in New Jersey will no longer be allowed to supply or sell single-use plastic bags or Styrofoam containers (known by the brand name “Styrofoam”).

The law also prohibits stores from providing single-use paper bags, which lawmakers say would save energy and reduce harmful emissions.

Governor Phil Murphy signed the measure in November 2020, giving stores and consumers a year and a half to prepare.

Lawmakers and advocates said the ban was necessary to reduce pollution.

In 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency reported that 4.2 million tons of plastic bags were generated in the United States and only 10% of plastic bags were recycled.

The marine fauna has been particularly impacted.

“It takes a very long time to break down…it just takes hundreds of years. But once they’re in the water, it’s kind of like it breaks down faster than a landfill, for example, but it turns into microplastics… which are then eaten by our wildlife,” said Anjuli Ramos-Busot, director of the Sierra Club New Chapter of Jersey.

Speaking on WHYY’s “Radio Times” on Monday, Ramos-Busot argued that it’s harder to recycle single-use plastic bags than other forms of plastic.

“Which makes [plastic bags] even worse than your regular plastic is that they are not recyclable, you cannot recycle them. They are single-use,” Ramos-Busot said. “And when you try to recycle other types of plastics and you get contaminated with those plastic bags, it basically ruins your entire batch of recyclable plastics.”

“Also, it kind of ruins the recycling machines. They are therefore extremely polluting for the environment. But they are also damaging to our recycling infrastructure,” Ramos-Busot said.

Bryce K. Locke