State-Wide Ban on Plastic Bags Taking Effect on May 4th

State-Wide Ban on Plastic Bags Taking Effect on May 4th

By Juliana Lee , Senior Editor

As humans continue to the be the number one reason for the ever so growing environmental crisis, there are steps being taken in an attempt to reverse our actions and the most recent example being New Jersey’s new state-wide ban on single-use plastic bags, which will be taking effect this Wednesday on May 4th. 

Reusable produce mesh bags and a reusable tote bag.

More specifically, the law according to New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection states that “Starting May 4, 2022, New Jersey retail stores, grocery stores and food service businesses may not provide or sell single-use plastic carryout bags and polystyrene foam food service products. Single-use paper carryout bags are allowed to be provided or sold, except by grocerystores equal to or larger than 2500 square feet, which may only provide or sell reusable carryout bags. After November 4, 2021, plastic straws may be provided only upon the request of the customer.”

Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey, the state outlined their duty and responsibility to “minimize plastic pollution in the ocean, and to ensure that future generations have a clean and healthy environment to live, work, and recreate in…”  

Furthermore, there are some nuances and exceptions in the law such as the following:

  • grocery stores can still provide plastic bags for loose items such as produce and flowers
  • grocery stores can have use polystyrene foam for raw and deli sliced meats, including poultry and fish trays
  • restaurants can still use paper bags for delivery orders or carryout items
  • restaurants can still provide plastic straws only upon request
  • convenience stores may provide single-use paper bags

Moving forwards from May 4th, a multitude of consumers, restaurants, cafes, fast-food chains, retail-stores, grocery stores, and convenience stores will be affected by this piece of legislation. Whether the responses and opinions of these parties are negative or positive, the law will take effect and failure to do so will result in “a warning for the first offense, may be fined up to $1,000 per day for the second offense, and up to $5,000 per day for the third and subsequent offense. Violations of a continuing nature constitute an additional, separate, and distinct offense for each day that is deemed a violation.

Senior Zoya Barsik explains her opinion on the law: “This piece of legislation is one giant step for New Jersey, but in retrospect, I don’t know if its as big of a step that we should take such as moving towards cleaner energy and cutting out fossil fuels because that seems to be the biggest root of the problem. But I guess with any big goal, little tasks have to be achieved before getting too ahead of yourself.”

Along the lines of what Barsik said, this law will take precedence in the line of future acts of legislation regarding protecting the Earth and punishing those who damage it. The fact that the state is acknowledging this crisis is tremendous and a great way to spread awareness in order to prepare for bigger changes. And as it becomes the norm to bring our own reusable bags and utensils everywhere we go, there will be more ways our lives will continue to change in order to adapt to the effects of climate change and in order to attempt to stop the effects before it is too late. This is just one step of many.