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New Jersey Moves Closer to Banning Plastic & Paper Bags, Styrofoam Containers

paper and plastic bags

TRENTON, N.J. — Carrying items out of convenience stores in New Jersey could look a lot different in the future.

State lawmakers approved legislation to ban the use or sale of single-use plastic carryout bags, single-use paper carryout bags, and polystyrene foam foodservice products, and a limitation on the provision of single-use plastic straws. It would phase in these restrictions over time and would preempt municipal and county regulations.

The measure now heads to Gov. Phil Murphy's desk.

Starting 18 months after the bill is signed, businesses — including c-stores, restaurants, food trucks and grocery stores measuring at least 2,500 square feet — will be banned from giving out polystyrene and plastic and paper bags. Beginning a year after the bill is signed, straws can only be given to customers who request them, NJBIZ reported.

"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," said state Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin (D-Middlesex).

"Many of our municipalities have already taken steps to limit the use of carryout bags and containers; now, it's time for the state to act. This legislation, if enacted, would be the strongest law implemented in the nation to curb the use of these products and maintain New Jersey's stance as a leader in environmental protection," she added.

Pinkin sponsored the legislation with Assemblymen James Kennedy (D- Middlesex, Somerset, Union) and John McKeon (D-Essex, Morris).

Exemptions apply to bags used for wrapping raw meat; Styrofoam butcher trays; bags used for loose produce; those that hold fish and insects from pet stores; and bags for prescription drugs, newspapers and dry-cleaning, NJBIZ added.

According to The Associated Press, 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.

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