New Jersey hops back on the bag ban bandwagon
Bans of single-use plastic bags were being passed in an increasing number of states and municipalities throughout the U.S. in the latter half of the 2010s. The novel coronavirus pandemic, however, drew attention away from environmentalism and toward more immediate self-preservation strategies. Government, grocer and customer fears that the novel coronavirus could be transmitted from reusable cloth bags led to the sudden return of single-use plastics. Now, one of the U.S. states hardest hit by the pandemic is considering getting back on the road to limiting single-use plastics and other forms of carry-out packaging.
New Jersey legislators passed a bill aimed at banning the use of single-use plastic and paper grocery bags as well as plastic straws, paper takeout bags and polystyrene food containers, News 12 New Jersey reported. The restrictions apply to retail establishments greater than 1,000-square-feet that provide carryout bags (except for the paper bag restriction, which only applies to stores larger than 2,500-square-feet, according to officials).
If the bill is signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy, there will be an 18-month grace period before the full enforcement begins, a timeline that could theoretically put the U.S. on the other end of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Businesses that violate the law could face fines of up to $5,000.
This is not the first time that New Jersey has mulled instituting a strict single-use plastic and paper ban. Mr. Murphy proposed such legislation after taking office in 2018. The law as written then was characterized as one of the most comprehensive in the nation by proponents and as onerous by opponents.
While government entities began the bag bans, large retailers, including Kroger and Walmart, started instituting programs to cut down or eliminate single-use plastics as a wave of environmentalism swept the nation.
At the onset of the pandemic, however, many governing bodies that had instituted single-use plastic bans directly called on citizens and retailers to pause the use of reusable cloth bags. Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker, for instance, recommended in March that shoppers in the state stop using reusable bags according to Illinois Policy.
- NJ bill would ban most single-use plastic, paper bags in the state – New Jersey News 12
- What would the nation’s strictest plastic ban mean for New Jersey’s retailers? – RetailWire
- Will Kroger’s ban mean the end of plastic bags in grocery store? – RetailWire
- State advises stores to temporarily ban reusable bags, but Chicago’s single-use bag tax remains – Illinois Policy
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is this the right time for states and cities to institute bans on single-use plastic bags? Will bans lead to the widespread use of reusable bags or some other alternative?