New Jersey’s plastic bag ban takes effect


Sophia Liu ('24)

New Jersey’s plastic bag ban went into effect on May 4, 2022.

On May 4, 2022, there was a law issued for a ban on plastic bags in New Jersey which is implemented for all stores, grocery stores, retail, and food service businesses. To help organize and help many stores adjust to the ban, there are other factors implemented, such as a program that is being planned by the Department of Environment Protection and the Department of State. The program will consist of assistance such as educational programs, FAQs, an issuance of free reusable carryout bags from a partnership with the Clean Communities Program, and public service announcements. If the guidelines of the ban are not followed there are penalties that include on your first offense, a warning, your second offense can be up to $1000, and your third offense or any that follow is up to $5000.

In regards to using a “reusable carryout bag”, your bag must follow the following requirements: it must be designed and made for numerous reuses, be made with stitched handles, and the material it is made out of has to be hemp product, cloth, nylon, PET non-woven fabric, polypropylene fabric, or fabric that is washable.

The advantages of this plastic bag ban is the amount of litter that is going to be reduced now that plastic bags will not be utilized. There is a lot of litter including plastic bags that are polluting areas such as the highways, parks, and the oceans which is dangerous to the habitats and the marine life. According to Clean Ocean Action’s Beach Sweeps report, in 2021, 82% of the litter that was gathered was plastic. Also, this ban will assure more sustainability and will cut down on plastic waste. In 2018, the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection Agency found that only 420,000 tons were recycled from the total of around 4.2 million tons of plastic bags, wraps, and sacks produced that year.

The main disadvantage of the ban is adjusting to it. Many people are used to using plastic bags provided by stores but now must remember to bring their own reusable carryout bag. Also, there are many customs that were put into place with the use of plastic bags which may be more difficult now that the ban is in place. Some examples include, using plastic bags as a “trash bag” for a room or using it for pets for their waste.

Because this plastic bag ban was put into place recently, it will take some time to adapt to it but it is very important to recognize that a ban like such needs to be put in place. The waste that people are creating is heavily impacting the environment negatively and following this ban is a step in the right direction to help the environment.