NJ lawmakers pass carryout bag ban; would be first state to ban paper bags

New Jersey lawmakers have passed legislation banning single-use plastic and paper bags, as well as Styrofoam containers. The prohibition would go into effect in 18 months under the bill, which goes next to Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy. Murphy has indicated he would sign a bill like the one lawmakers passed after vetoing a measure that merely added a charge to plastic bags.

Eight states have banned plastic bags, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. New Jersey lawmakers say they would be the first to also ban paper bags. Maine and Maryland have also passed bills banning plastic foam. Hawaii has a de facto ban on paper bags with less than 40% recycled material, according to the conference.

While some states impose a fee on paper bags, New Jersey lawmakers say the state would be the first to ban paper bags.

The New Jersey bill’s sponsors say it’s necessary to safeguard the environment.

“The health and safety of future generations depend on the choices we make today. Single-use plastic products are one of the single greatest threats to our oceans, environment, and health,” Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin said.

Republicans opposed the measure, saying it would wallop small businesses that have been badly hurt by the pandemic.

So what should people and businesses use, if they can’t use paper and plastic?

The ban doesn’t apply to reusable carryout bags, defined in the measure as one made out of polypropylene, as well as those made out of nylon, cloth or hemp, or other washable fabrics. Bags with stitched handles are also exempt under the measure.