Plastic bags have become ubiquitous, and are taking a toll on our environment and our economy. According to the EPA, between 500 billion and a trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year, and each of those bags is used for an average of 12 minutes. NJ residents use 4.4 billion plastic bags each year. These bags, which never fully break down, end up in our landfills, parks, beaches, along roadways, parking lots, and in our waterways. Disposable bags are harmful, wasteful, and unnecessary. People around the world are now choosing a sustainable alternative; reusable bags.
As of November 4, 2020, Governor Murphy signed into law the Plastic Pollution Reduction Act. Starting May 2022, both plastic and paper single-use bags, as well as disposable food containers and cups made out of polystyrene foam, will be banned, with some exemptions (bags wrapping raw meat, polystyrene butcher trays, produce bags, newspaper bags, dry cleaning bags, prescription bags and bags holding fish or insects from pet stores). Stores less than 2,500 square feet can still provide paper bags. The new law also restricts food-service businesses from handing out plastic straws, unless specifically requested by a customer, beginning in November 2021.
ANJEC ‘s new website NJNoplastics provides more information on the law and resources for residents, businesses and municipalities.