New Jersey Moves Toward Bag Ban

State bill looks to ban most plastic and paper bags, affecting all retailers.

December 10, 2019

TRENTON, N.J.—The state Legislature of New Jersey is looking at a bill that places restrictions on everyday plastic products. reports that as written, “the bill would impose some of the most stringent regulations on plastic bags, paper bags, plastic straws and polystyrene food containers in the nation.”

If it passes, all retail stores would be banned from giving out plastic or paper bags beginning in 2021. Some legislators say that the paper bag policy is a bit too harsh and that retailers should have the opportunity to charge customers a small fee for a paper bag. Styrofoam would likely be completely banned beginning in 2022, including cups, plates and takeout containers.

Because the law would require New Jersey residents to seriously change their habits, supermarkets would be required to provide free reusable carryout bags for the first two months after the ban takes effect.

These plastic bags won't be banned:

·         Thick woven plastic bags with stitched handles that most supermarkets sell for $1

·         Small bags used solely to contain food that's prepared to order, like sliced deli meats, soup or other hot food

·         Those used to hold uncooked meat, fish or poultry

·         Those that hold fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, coffee, baked goods, candy, greeting cards, flowers or small hardware items

·         Those used solely to contain live animals, such as fish or insects sold in pet stores

·         Bags holding prescription drugs 

·         Newspaper bags

·         Dry cleaning bags

Although a handful of local plastic bans have taken effect in New Jersey, the new statewide ruling would overturn any local standings, and retailers that do not adhere will be fined.