NJ law to reduce single-use plastic bags and polystyrene foam products takes effect May 4


| Photo via New Jersey DEP Website

NEW JERSEY – Shawn M. LaTourette, New Jersey Dept. of Environmental Protection, urged the public to get ready for the state’s plastic bag and polystyrene foam food-service container law on May 4, just 19 days away, by stocking up on reusable bags. He also reminded food-service businesses that another provision of the law requires that single-use plastic straws are distributed only at the customer’s request has been in effect since November last year.

NJ DEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette | Photo via DEP Website

LaTourette said that Americans use some 100 billion plastic bags each year. “While some of these bags are recycled, many end up in landfills, and many more wind up as litter that is harmful to our communities, ecosystems, and wildlife. Sadly, these plastic bags get into our marine environments, killing fish, dolphins, whales, and other types of marine life,” the commissioner said. “It’s very important for all of us to work together to make a lasting difference in protecting our communities and environment from plastics pollution.”

He also encouraged New Jerseyans to stock up on reusable bags and start using them immediately. “It will make things so much easier in the long run – and you will feel great about doing it,” he said.

The law, P.L. 2020, c. 117, signed by Governor Murphy in 2020, requires grocery stores and retail establishments to no longer provide single-use plastic bags to customers. In addition, grocery stores 2,500 square feet or larger may not give the customers single-use paper bags. The law also prohibits the sale of polystyrene foam takeout food containers and other polystyrene food-service products such as plates, cups, food trays, and utensils.

The DEP’s new Get Past Plastic website offers a wealth of information about the law, including the types of reusable bags you should use. It also includes information about single-use plastic straw requirements.

“We know that businesses have been preparing all year for the May 4 start date for the plastic bag and polystyrene food service products law,” said Melanie Willoughby, Executive Director of the New Jersey Business Action Center. “But there might still be questions from their customers, so the NJBAC is here to help answer those questions on our 1-800-JERSEY–7 help-line. We want to ensure that the businesses and their customers have a smooth transition.”

The information provided in this list may help business owners if the law impacts them.

–With Jay Domingo/PDM

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