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Response to plastic bag ban remains mixed 1 year after law went into effect

Environmentalists say that the effort has been a great success.

Matt Trapani and Samantha Liebman

May 4, 2023, 8:22 PM

Updated 388 days ago


It has been one year since plastic bags were banned in New Jersey.
Grocery stores, convenience stores and other retail establishments were barred from giving customers disposable plastic bags with their purchases. Only reusable bags are allowed.
Environmentalists say that the effort has been a great success. But New Jerseyans have mixed feelings about the law.
“It’s become a habit. It’s just remembering to bring them with you,” says Sandy Huff, of Garwood.
“I hope they bring back the plastic bags because I keep forgetting to bring these and I have to buy them every single time I’m here,” says Briana Dilauri, of Garwood. “And groceries are already crazy.”
But Doug O’Malley, with Environment NJ, says that it is likely that plastic bags won’t make a return.
“The ban on single-use plastics that went into effect a year ago has probably been the most successful environmental law in memory for having an immediate impact on people’s daily environment and their communities,” he says.
The New Jersey Food Council says that in just the first five months of the law, they estimate more than 3 billion plastic bags, and 68 million paper bags were kept out of landfills. They say that it also made beaches and waterways cleaner.
But some people who still get their groceries delivered say they are occasionally inundated with bags and can’t get rid of them.
“I kind of just throw them out, or, if I remember, bring them to the store,” says Barbara Wilson, of Long Beach Island.
There was some talk of amending the law to force stores to take the bags back. But the idea was shelved as more people returned to the store in person.
Environmentalists say that those who still get groceries delivered should consider donating the reusable bags to local food pantries.

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