NJ Plastic Bag Ban Goes into Effect

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By Ricardo Montanez, Staff Writer

On Wednesday, May 4th, New Jersey’s plastic bag ban came into effect. Single-use plastic bags are banned at all store registers as well as paper bags at large grocery stores. 

The bill for this ban was signed back in November 2020 but stores were given 18 months to prepare. This can be seen as a strict ban within the nation, given that New Jersey is within a mere 8 states that have this ban in effect. 

Again, this ban mostly applies to grocery stores, use of plastic bags for produce, laundromats, trash cans, dog waste, and other few exceptions remain. When entering a grocery store, be prepared to bring a reusable grocery bag. Be ready to buy some at the register of your grocery store or bring your grocery items without any bags.

A bag must have handles made of some kind of washable fabric and withstand up to 125 washes. Anything made of plastic will not be considered reusable. However, since the law applies to what stores can give you, you can re-use any plastic bags you have within your own home. 

Most grocery stores in New Jersey plan on distributing a set of reusable bags with every online order. Most stores will cover the fees for these bags. Some stores like Walmart and Target won’t be offering reusable bags when you pick up your order. 

“I only have 3-4 reusable bags to bring with me so heavy-duty shopping is a little more difficult,” said Wayne Hills English Teacher Ms. Caamaño.

Some grocery chains are working on setting up a bag return program, any unwanted bags can be donated to food pantries. 

“Yesterday I went to stop and shop and got like a bunch of little bars and stuff. When I went to check out, they made me buy a bag and I was like, ‘that’s stupid. It’s like throwing money away because I’m never going to remember to bring a reusable bag back in,” says Junior Joshua Baek, “This solution is just plastic waste but makes it boujee [sic].”

Adding on to the plastic bag ban, on May 4th, the ban of styrofoam cups and containers has also been banned from eating establishments as well as for purchase in grocery stores.

While some lawmakers and industry groups opposed this ban, environmental groups praised the law, claiming it as an “environmental victory.”