Plastic Bag Bans – A New Jersey Update

By way of an update to our April 27, 2023 Blog post regarding plastic bag and straw bans, we thought it a good time to circle back to what is going in New Jersey (other state updates will follow). 

The relevant NJ plastic bag ban bill can be found at

Per a press release issued earlier this week, the New Jersey Business Action Center is reminding small restaurants and stores of their need to comply with the recent plastic and paper carryout bag ban before local health departments conduct inspections of their facilities.

Under state law, retail stores, grocery stores and food service businesses may NOT provide or sell single-use plastic carryout bags and polystyrene foam food service products (i.e., styrofoam). Single-use paper carryout bags are allowed to be provided or sold, except by grocery stores equal to or larger than 2,500 SF, which may only provide or sell reusable carryout bags.

The state maintains an online vendor list where businesses affected by the ban can find alternative carryout products.

According to the New Jersey Plastics Council’s annual report, released in May 2023, approximately 5.5 billion single-use plastic bags and 110 million single-use paper bags were eliminated from entering the waste stream and environment by the supermarket sector alone from May 2022, the effective date of the law through the end of 2022.

Parting Shot – While there was the normal outrage at the ban being enacted in the first place, and that the plastic bag ban would cause massive inconvenience and potential loss of jobs, the reality on the ground is that other than minor inconvenience, constituents quickly learned to bring bags with them and that they could and would survive in a non-styrofoam providing environment.  While 5.5 billion single use bags might not seem like much to some, in this author’s view, it is a big step in positive direction where people take greater interest in where their waste is going and whether the waste can be reused for another purpose.  

Duane Morris has an active ESG and Sustainability Team to help organizations and individuals plan, respond to, and execute on your Sustainability and ESG planning and initiatives. For more information, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, David Amerikaner, Sheila Rafferty-Wiggins, Alice Shanahan, Jeff Hamera, Nanette Heide, Joel Ephross, Jolie-Anne Ansley, Robert Montejo, Seth Cooley, or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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