NEW JERSEY – Governor Phil Murphy Wednesday signed bill S864, which prohibits the use of single-use plastic and paper bags in all stores and food service businesses statewide. This bill is a significant step to reduce harm and pollution that these products cause to our environment.
“Plastic bags are one of the most problematic forms of garbage, leading to millions of discarded bags that stream annually into our landfills, rivers, and oceans,” Murphy said. “With today’s historic bill signing, we are addressing the problem of plastic pollution head-on with solutions that will help mitigate climate change and strengthen our environment for future generations.”
Starting May 2022, both plastic and paper single-use bags, as well as disposable food containers and cups made out of polystyrene foam, will be banned. Paper bags require resources and energy to produce, contributing to pollution. Moving forward, the focus throughout the state will be on using reusable bags. The following products will be exempt for an additional two years after May 2022:
- Disposable, long-handled polystyrene foam soda spoons when required and used for thick drinks;
- Portion cups of two ounces or less, if used for hot foods or foods requiring lids;
- Meat and fish trays for raw or butchered meat, including poultry, or fish that is sold from a refrigerator or similar retail appliance;
- Any food product pre-packaged by the manufacturer with a polystyrene foam food service product; and
- Any other polystyrene foam food service product as determined necessary by Department of Environmental Protection.
Under the new law, food service businesses will be allowed to provide single-use plastic straws only upon request starting November 2021.
“From our cities to our shores, single-use plastic bags unnecessarily litter New Jersey’s most treasured spaces and pollute our ecosystems,” said New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe. “By banning single-use plastic bags, Governor Murphy and our legislature continue to make a New Jersey a national leader in environmental protection and the DEP stands ready to implement these new measures and educate the public.”
“This is a great day. New Jersey has now become a national leader in going after plastics and protecting our environment. This statewide plastic ban will help protect our rivers and streams from plastic that has been known to kill whales, get into our environment, and into us. This comprehensive plastic ban not only bans plastic bags, but also polystyrene and the offering of plastic straws. This is a critical step forward when it comes to protecting our environment from plastics,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “There were those who wanted legislation that only put a fee on plastic and fought for a weak bill 2 years ago. We want to thank the Governor for all he did signing this bill and vetoing the weaker bill. Now we have the strongest plastic ban in the nation.”