Hoboken Expands Ban on Plastic Bags to Reusable Plastic + Styrofoam 

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Last January, the Hoboken ban on single-use plastic bags went into effect, encouraging residents to use more environmentally friendly options and to cut back on the city’s waste. While this was deemed an overall success, Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla posted on Facebook on Monday, “the thicker ‘reusable’ plastic bags used at the larger retailers aren’t being reused like the intent of the original law we passed last year.” Let’s be honest – it’s harder than it looks to remember to throw those reusable bags in our trunks when we head to the grocery store or on that last-minute run on the way home from the city.

While the rest of New Jersey considers its own plastic bag ban, Bhalla and the City Council felt more drastic measures were needed locally. With a unanimous decision, Hoboken has become the first town in the state to ban all carry-out plastic bags {including the questionable reusable ones from places like CVS and Shoprite} and single-use polystyrene products like Styrofoam. In short, Hoboken wanted the full Monty. Keep reading for everything you need to know about the updates to Hoboken’s plastic bag ban.


The Amendments

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Going into effect on March 8th, 2020, reusable plastic bags will no longer be permitted. This is an amendment to the original ordinance which currently permits the use of heavy reusable plastic bags of at least 2.25 mils thick, such as the ShopRite alternatives. Similarly, a second amendment no longer permits the use of single-service articles made of expanded polystyrene {EPS}. EPS is typically used for cups, containers, plates, packing peanuts, and other materials and cannot be recycled. Residents are most familiar with the popular brand Styrofoam.

Produce and pet waste plastic bags will remain exempt – for now – as will EPS containers packaged before arriving in the Mile Square or used to store raw meat, pork, fish, seafood, or poultry.

Instead, retail and food establishments will continue to encourage us to {remember to} bring our reusable bags. And for when we forget, they will offer only paper bag alternatives for a fee of 10-25 cents per bag. 

See More: Shake Shack in Hoboken Has a Projected Opening Date

Why Plastic?

plastic bag ban news hoboken

On average, a person uses 500 single-use plastic bags per year. That is more than one bag per day. Couple that with the fact that plastic does not break down – it takes hundreds of years in landfills – and you have a lot of potential litter and unnecessary pollution.

Because of Hoboken’s close proximity to the Hudson River, plastic poses a specific, tangible, harmful threat to sea life. Marine animals like dolphins and turtles often mistake plastic for food. When these animals attempt to ingest plastic bags, they can either suffer asphyxiation, intestinal blockage or die from toxicity. Additionally, floating trash is more often times than not non-biodegradable. More than 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans annually – and it doesn’t go anywhere.

The Bigger Picture

Hoboken is hardly the first to enact such a ban. Back in 2014, California passed the first plastic bag legislation in the U.S. Jersey City’s ban went into effect rather recently, in October 2019, while New York City’s single-use plastic bag ban will go into effect this coming March. Internationally, even Ireland has gone plastic-less, and their results are astonishing. When the country passed a plastic bag tax – 33 U.S. cents per bag at the time – plastic bag usage dropped 94% in a matter of weeks.

Read More: Coco Havana in Hoboken Relaunching as Havana-Style Bar

Ultimately, the plastic bag ban is another step in Hoboken’s efforts to become carbon neutral by 2050 and hopefully, the Mile Square can reach that goal.

Will Jersey City be close behind? Let us know in the comments!

Did you know: We started a podcast about all things news and lifestyle in Hoboken + Jersey City! Listen to the latest episode of Tea on the Hudson here and subscribe.

We release new episodes every Tuesday, starting again January 14, 2020 for Season 2.

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Born and raised in Madison, this authentic Jersey tomato has ripened in Hudson County for the last seven years. As a graduate of Northeastern University’s D'Amore-McKim School of Business, Chloe’s been nerding out over Excel spreadsheets {and stalking you on the internet} since she took her first internship at Efficient Frontier in NYC. Don’t let her college choice fool you, she is a diehard Met’s fan and has the weathered scorebook to prove it. When she’s not dodging armpits and elbows on the PATH, she can usually be found watching Jurassic Park {the original, obviously} for the billionth time, talking to every Jersey City dog she passes, or finishing the last slice of pizza.