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Bill to temporarily allow single-use packaging for grocery home delivery services advances

NEW JERSEY – In an effort to improve grocery delivery service with the implementation of the single-use bag ban, the Senate Environment and Energy Committee Thursday advanced legislation sponsored by Senator Bob Smith and Senator Kristen Corrado that would allow grocery delivery services and their customers to choose from various new packaging options for grocery delivery, pickup, and curbside pickup.

“We have seen over the last five months that the ban on single-use packaging has been a tremendous aid in reducing plastic waste and litter, including single use bags, Styrofoam packaging and packing peanuts. As we find more and more plastic microparticles in human blood, we need to continue to reduce as much plastic as possible from our environment,” said Smith (D-Middlesex/Somerset). “However, it is evident that there is a glitch in the law when it comes to home delivery services, with residents accumulating excess reusable bags. We want to rectify this issue for residents by providing additional options for grocery delivery packaging while we continue to develop more sustainable and practical alternatives. Plastics are a real problem, so we don’t want to bring them back, but we do want to make sure New Jerseyans are not being inconvenienced by the influx of reusable bags.”

The bill, S-3114, would authorize the continued use of reusable bags if the delivery service and customer agree. However, if the customer wants the delivery service to take back excess bags it would be required to do so and reuse, recycle or donate the returned reusable bags.

An alternative under the legislation would authorize grocery delivery services to provide customers with the option to receive groceries in either cardboard boxes (Costco model) or paper bags consisting of a minimum of 40 percent post-consumer recycled content for three years. The time limit is designed to send a signal to the packaging industry that new, environmentally friendly containers are requested in the future. Finally, customers would also have the option to receive unpackaged groceries so long as there is a receptacle provided by the consumer where the groceries can be safely delivered.

All of the delivery options would be reliant on mutual consent of both the grocery delivery business and the resident.

“I’m glad we can work in a bipartisan manner to address some of the challenges New Jerseyans have experienced following the prohibition of single-use grocery bags earlier this year,” said Corrado (R-Bergen/Essex/Morris/Passaic). “The changes we are proposing will prevent people who use grocery services from being stuck with large numbers of reusable bags they don’t need, while allowing additional packaging choices that are both convenient and environmentally friendly.”

“With this bill in place, grocery stores, grocery delivery services and residents will all have more time to adjust to this change without hindering the State’s commitment to decreasing plastic waste and litter,” said Senator Smith. “In the meantime, I urge all residents to donate their unwanted reusable bags to their local food bank or pantry.”

The bill was released from committee by a vote of 4-1.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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