Governor Phil Murphy has signed new legislation banning single-use plastic and paper bags and disposable food containers and cups made out of polystyrene foam in all stores and foodservice businesses in New Jersey beginning May 2022.
The following products will be exempt under the new NJ order for an additional two years after May 2022:
- Disposable, long-handled polystyrene foam soda spoons when required and used for thick drinks;
- Portion cups of two ounces or less, if used for hot foods or foods requiring lids;
- Meat and fish trays for raw or butchered meat, including poultry or fish that is sold from a refrigerator or similar retail appliance;
- Any food product pre-packaged by the manufacturer with a polystyrene foam foodservice product; and
- Any other polystyrene foam foodservice product as determined necessary by the Department of Environmental Protection.
Foodservice businesses will also be allowed to provide single-use plastic straws only upon request starting November 2021.
“Plastic bags are one of the most problematic forms of garbage, leading to millions of discarded bags that stream annually into our landfills, rivers, and oceans,” said Governor Murphy in a press release. “With today’s historic bill signing, we are addressing the problem of plastic pollution head-on with solutions that will help mitigate climate change and strengthen our environment for future generations.”
Per statistics, about 2 million plastic bags are used per minute worldwide. New Yorkers alone use about 23 billion plastic bags each year. Last year, New York became the third state to ban plastic bags. California became the first state to enact the ban in August 2014.
“Gov. Murphy signed the strongest single-use ban on plastics in the country to prioritize our wildlife and our communities over endless plastic waste polluting our waterways,” said Doug O’Malley, Director of Environment New Jersey, in the press release. “Plastic and polystyrene items we use for 15 minutes should not end up in our environment and communities for endless generations. Polystyrene cannot be cost-effectively recycled on a mass scale and we need to transition to reusable bags. We are deeply thankful for Gov. Murphy’s leadership vetoing a half-measure plastics bill two years ago and his support for a more comprehensive ban and we are thrilled that New Jersey can be a national leader in reducing single-use waste.”
The City of Hoboken has been the first in efforts to reduce litter and protect the environment. In January of 2019, the City Council passed an ordinance banning single-use plastic carry-out bags at retail and food establishments. Customers have since been encouraged to bring their reusable bags or pay for a bag. Some plastic bags can be purchased for a fee of 10-25 cents per bag. Following suit, Jersey City began enforcing a similar city-wide ban of single-use plastic carryout bags starting June 2019.