New Jersey certainly is not the first state to instate a ban on plastic bags, but it has become the first state to pass what it is calling “the strongest bag ban in the nation.” That means the Garden State has now banned paper bags along with plastic bags.
The legislation passed and a spokesperson for Governor Philip D. Murphy told the New York Times that this will soon be signed into law. It will become the 9th state to ban plastic bags but the bill is different from the rest of the states’ bans as it will also ban “single-use paper carryout bags, and polystyrene foam food service products.” Single use plastic straws will be limited and will only be provided to customers who request them.
Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club Jeff Tittle said: “This bill is probably the strongest, most comprehensive bill in the nation dealing with plastics and packaging.” There are a few exceptions when it comes to uncooked meat, poultry, and fish, as well as “loose items such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, coffee, grains, baked goods, candy, greeting cards, flowers, or small hardware items, live animals such as fish or insects sold at a pet store, food sliced or prepared to order, including soup or hot food, dry cleaning or other garments or laundry; prescription drugs; a newspaper,” according to officials.
Sean Kean, Republican assemblyman, has opposed the Democratic-led bill, saying that it will punish restaurants that have already been struggling during the pandemic and: “This is going to be our reward to them for enduring, since March , probably the worst business environment we’ve seen.”
The addition of paper bags to the overall ban has not been without controversy. American Forest and Paper Association said that choosing paper bags over plastic bags is “part of the environmental solution.” In response, the New Jersey Food Council has said that this is part of a very deliberate initiative. President and CEO of the New Jersey Food Council Linda Doherty said in a statement: “Without this ban, consumers would have simply moved to paper single-use bags, failing to address the underlying goal of reducing our reliance on single-use products.”