New Jersey lawmakers pass single-use plastics ban
If approved by the New Jersey Governor, the bill would prohibit food service businesses from giving customers single-use plastic bags and polystyrene food containers.
State lawmakers in New Jersey have passed a bill that would limit the use of single-use plastic bags, paper bags, plastic straws and polystyrene food containers in that state.
The Democrat-sponsored bill – called S864/A1978 – prohibits food service businesses from giving customers single-use plastic bags and polystyrene food containers. The bans apply to a variety of businesses, including restaurants, convenience stores, food trucks, movie theaters and grocery stores that are 2,500 square feet or larger. Grocery stores specifically would be prohibited from giving paper bags to customers.
The rules give exemptions for some disposable items, including bags wrapping raw meat, polystyrene butcher trays, bags used for loose items like produce, bags that hold fish and insects from pet stores, dry cleaning bags, newspaper bags, and bags carrying prescription drugs
Food service businesses, under the bill, would only be allowed to hand-out plastic straws upon a customer’s request.
Beyond the bans, the bill also creates a “Plastics Advisory Council” within the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, which would be tasked with monitoring the implementation of the new regulations and studying plastic waste in New Jersey.
Industry advocacy group the American Recyclable Plastic Bag Alliance (ARPBA) expressed disappointment in the votes and warned of negative economic consequences. “[This] vote is an unfortunate, but unsurprising, move by the Assembly that will harm consumers, retailers, and New Jersey-based manufacturers,” said Zachary Taylor, the ARPBA’s director. “The ban will force businesses struggling to stay afloat amidst the pandemic into an impossible situation of being required to provide bags that are much more expensive, harder to procure, and ironically have worse impacts on the environment. As a result, consumers will see higher prices and manufacturing jobs across the state will be put at risk – benefitting no one as the pandemic and its economic fallout continues.”
The measure now heads to New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy for signing, although reports say he has not yet announced whether he will sign it or not. If signed, the bill would go into effect 18 months later.