NJ bill would ban most single-use plastic, paper bags in the state
New Jersey legislators passed a bill that would ban a variety of single-use plastic and paper products commonly used by stores in the state.
Items that would be included in the proposed law are plastic grocery bags, paper grocery bags, paper takeout bags, plastic straws and polystyrene food containers.
Plastic bags would still be allowed for gathering produce and covering dry cleaning.
Any grocery store, supermarket, convenience store, liquor store, pharmacy, drug store or other retail establishment that has over 1,000 square feet of retail space and that provides carryout bags must adhere to the new law if it is signed by Gov. Phil Murphy.
The goal of the bill is to change consumer habits by helping curb growing plastic pollution and reduce greenhouses gases in the production process.
"I'm going to support it 100% and I hope that our guests will do the same because it's good for all of us in the future," says Americo Seabra, who, along with his family, own nearly 10 Seabra's Markets in Union and throughout the state. He says they will begin searching for alternatives like providing reusable cloth bags to customers. However, the use of reusable bags have come into question during the coronavirus pandemic over fears of spreading the virus to grocery store workers.
"We'll have to address that. How do we let you bring in a bag? Do we have a spray down system, something of that sort? Because because everything with the sprays today, you can probably clean it down," Seabra says.
"We have a lot of take out and we want to make it easier. We do not want to make it harder and more expensive," says Manny Niotis, owner of Manny's Diner in Clark. He says he's open to the changes but has concerns on what the proposed alternatives will be during a time when he relies on use of plastic and paper in takeout orders. Safety is another concern. He emphasizes that sealed plastic bags help to ensure that meals are not contaminated or tampered with when using third party delivery systems like Doordash or Uber Eats.
"We need something better alternative and reasonable, and we have no problem with it, but that's all we need, and we follow all the rules," Niotis says.
Murphy is expected to sign the bill into law, according to a spokesperson.
There will be an 18-month grace period before the law is fully enforced.
Businesses that don't comply could face fines of up to $5,000.
Officials, meantime, say restaurants can use paper bags, and the paper bag ban only applies for grocery stores over 2,500-square feet.