New Jersey Plastic Bag Ban: May 4, 2022
Are you preparing for the plastic bag ban in our state? New Jersey is working to reduce reliance on single-use products to ensure that future generations have a clean and healthy environment to live and work in. Beginning May 4, 2022, a new bill prohibiting grocery stores, food service businesses, and other retail stores in New Jersey from providing or selling customers with single-use plastic carryout bags is going into effect. The law first bans plastic bags, regardless of thickness at grocery stores and retail outlets.
In addition to the single-use plastic ban, the bill goes further. Grocery stores larger than 2,500 square feet will not provide or sell single-use paper carry out bags. As a result, these stores will only be able to provide or sell reusable carry out bags. The ban that is finally going into effect is also banning polystyrene foam food service products; and makes plastic straws at restaurants available only on request.
The bill to ban paper and plastic bags and other single-use plastic items in New Jersey was originally put into place in November of 2020. However, 18 months of lead time was allotted for stores and consumers to prepare. The ban will be the strictest in the nation when it goes into effect in just a few weeks. However, there will be some exceptions to the plastic bag ban.
New Jersey Plastic Bag Ban: What are the Exceptions?
Even though this ban will be one of the strictest in the country, there are some exceptions. According to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), those exceptions are:
- A bag to contain or wrap raw meat, fish, or poultry.
- Bags to package loose items: fruits, vegetables, nuts, coffee, candy, etc.
- A bag to contain live animals such as fish or insects available in pet stores.
- Bags to contain food prepared to order (For example: soup or hot food).
- Laundry or dry-cleaning garment bags.
- Pharmacies providing bags to carry prescription drugs.
- Newspaper bags.
With these exceptions and the use of reusable shopping bags, the statewide New Jersey plastic bag ban on disposable bags will create an effective and uniform policy for all shoppers and business owners in NJ. The state expects the ban to help in reducing waste and litter statewide.
Reusable Shopping Bags
So, we hear about the use of reusable shopping bags. But what qualifies as a reusable shopping bag when it comes to the New Jersey plastic bag ban?
To consider a shopping bag reusable, the bag must first have handles. Next, the bags must be made of washable fabric. Finally, the shoppers must withstand at least 125 uses and multiple washes. However, to extend the life of your reusable bags, spot cleaning works best. Additionally, anything made of plastic regardless of thickness is not considered reusable. Bags with glued-on handles also does not qualify as reusable.
On the other hand, there are so many single-use plastic alternatives that can qualify as a reusable shopping bag. Cotton, rPET, and pp non-woven are a few of the most popular. Each material is reusable, durable, and customizable to fit your brand. They are also flexible, easy to produce, and above all, affordable.
As a result of the New Jersey plastic bag ban, companies are gravitating towards these three materials to create their reusable shopping bags. In fact, these materials are so popular that the demand comes from retailers and customers alike. To now be as eco-friendly as possible and to comply with local bag ordinances, they are seeking sustainable materials for their bags.
While we are promoting the use of these materials in reusable shopping bags, New Jersey has even started a campaign to back the statewide ban called “Bag Up NJ”.
Bag Up NJ
With the impending New Jersey plastic bag ban that goes into effect in just a few weeks, the state has a campaign in place called Bag Up NJ. This campaign is the New Jersey clean communities Council’s new single use plastic and paper bag ban outreach campaign. As a result – they have a simple message: Bring your own reusable bags when you shop.
While we often hear about the environmental impact of disposable plastic bags, it’s important to remember that single-use paper bags, or non-recyclable paper bags have a significant impact on the environment as well. Creating paper shopping bags requires larger amounts of water, energy, chemicals, and wood. Consequently, this process produces various wastes and emissions that must be controlled or treated.
To educate consumers, Bag up NJ reminds its residents about their options for sustainability wherever they shop. As of May 4, 2022, consumers can bring their own reusable bags when they shop and recycle their plastic bags.
Want to know more about the New Jersey plastic bag ban? Use the form to contact us below to start on your reusable shopping bag projects!