New Jersey previously passed a law to ban plastic bags from being distributed to consumers, and today May 4th it became effective. Many consider it the toughest bag ban law in the country, as it even bans paper bags for Supermarkets larger than 2,500 sq ft.
A focal point of the new law is single-use plastic bags. Across the board in all stores, single use plastic bags are no longer allowed to be given to consumers in New Jersey.
Convenience stores were a big consumer of single-use bags, so this will change things up for them and consumers.
For today only, local favorite convenience store Wawa is giving away a reusable bag with each purchase.
Each Wawa store has an initial inventory of 1,000 bags, which we believe afterwards will continue to be available after today for a charge.
Also in the New Jersey ban are polystyrene packages typically used for “to go” orders from diners and other restaurants, and plastic straws can only be given when a customer asks for one.
The core catalyst for this law is just the shear volume on single use plastic bags and containers that are not biodegradable or recyclable.
While that bag is thin and light, when handed out 100s of billions of times the shear amount of plastic in our landfills exponentially grows.
Media outlets are quoting the US Environmental Protection Agency as saying there are 380 Billion plastic bags used per year.
While I couldn’t find that exact source quote, I do see that the EPA is providing numbers based on weight… and the latest is 14.5 million TONS of plastic containers and packaging.
The New Jersey Clean Communities Council maintains the “BagUpNJ” website which in short order explains what the ban is about, and the penalties
The bill provides for penalties: a warning for a first offense, up to $1,000 for a second offense, and up to $5,000 for a third or subsequent offenseBagUpNJ.com
How Do We Shop Now?
There really aren’t any exceptions to this, even when it comes to supermarket shopping. Supermarkets seem to be a prime target as the law also prohibits supermarkets from going back to paper bags!
A big challenge for consumers is the we start our shopping experience from the car, and end it inside our homes. So we have to remember to bring the bags back out of the house and back into the car.
I get that this isn’t a hardship, but its more about working against a person’s decades long built-up habit of just jumping into the car to go shopping, or stopping on the way home from work.
I think many of us will simply force ourselves to include one more step in our “putting away the groceries” process… which would be to return the reusable bags back to the car.
Supermarket Shopping In Store
Bring your own bags. End.
Most stores will make reusable shopping bags available for purchase, and you just have remember to use over and over again.
In some rare cases you may be provided a reusable plastic bag, but expect that to be very rare as the cost of the thicker and sturdier bags is difficult for retailers to cover.
You actually are allowed to reuse your own single use plastic bags (if you are one of the millions that saves them), and bring them back into a store when you shop. It’s just that the store can’t provide you new single-use bags.
Some grocery stores are looking to jump ahead of single use ban and create their own policies.
Am article in EatThis, NotThat! states that grocery retailer Wegman’s is instituting their own chain wide ban which will remove 345 million pounds of plastic bags from circulation in just one year!
Non-grocery retail stores ARE allowed to still allowed to provide paper bags.
But as we read the New Jersey law, even large “Big-Box” general merchandise retailers cannot use paper bags if they have a large grocery presence in the store.
So Walmart and Target should be treated in the same category as supermarkets, and not be able to provide any bags at all.. even if you are only clothes shopping!
Each delivery service is developing their own rules, as one would expect.
For most prepared food deliveries from restaurants, paper bags are still allowed to be used… and that’s typically what I see anyway from services like DoorDash and UberEats.
For grocery deliveries…well the full ban on single-use plastic and paper is still in effect.
Popular area supermarket company ShopRite has a website to explain their new bagging plan, with a focus on their popular delivery service.
Each Shoprite store has it’s own section of the Corporate website, with a link to the Bag Ban Policy.
To keep things simple ShopRite of Sewell presents this plan:
A flat fee of $1.50 plus tax will be assessed to all online orders — delivery and pickup. This fee covers as many reusable bags as necessary to properly bag an entire order and will appear as a separate charge on your receipt.ShopRite Supermarket bag policy on all online orders, delivery and pickup
Just get used to keeping your own bags in your car.