Two Months into NJ’s Plastic Bag Ban

A recap of what the law does: 

    • Stores and food service businesses are prohibited from providing single-use plastic bags to customers. 
    • Paper bags will be prohibited in stores over 2,500 square feet (smaller stores may provide paper bags to customers)
    • Polystyrene foam food-ware products (commonly recognized by the brand name, Styrofoam) are prohibited.  
    • Plastic straws may only be provided upon request (although we’ve heard many food service establishments are still providing them, regardless!) 

It’s been two months since New Jersey implemented the strongest, most comprehensive single-use plastics law in the nation. 

Thanks to a strong coalition of environmental organizations, detailed research, and legislative champions, particularly Senator Bob Smith, the Plastic Pollution Reduction Act is already having positive impacts by preventing single-use plastic products from entering our waterways. Prior to the bag ban, New Jerseyans were using 4.4 billion plastic bags annually. The law has prevented the distribution of about 733 million plastic bags in just 2 months! 

While this is certainly a cause for celebration, single-use plastics continue to threaten our waterways.  Countless plastic bottles, food wrappers, and straws are still littering our beaches and floating throughout the NY-NJ Harbor. NJ’s plastics law, along with New York State’s plastic bag ban is significant progress to “turning off the tap” on plastic pollution, but there’s much more work to be done. 

Do your part and swap swap single-use bottles, utensils, and straws for reusables. Buy in bulk when you can and remember your reusable bags when you go shopping! As for additional legislation, we’re advocating for opportunities on the state and federal level to go further, faster to protect clean water, wildlife, and public health.