Local business owners have one year to prepare for the launch of New Jersey’s ban on single-use carryout bags and polystyrene foam food service products in stores and food service businesses.
On Nov. 4, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy signed into law P.L. 2020, c117, which prohibits the use of single-use plastic carryout bags in all stores and food service businesses statewide and single-use paper carryout bags in grocery stores that occupy at least 2,500 square feet beginning May 4, 2022. The law is designed to reduce pollution and protect New Jersey’s environment and economy for generations to come.
Beginning May 4, 2022, New Jersey businesses may not sell or provide single-use plastic carryout bags to their customers. Those businesses that decide to sell or provide reusable carryout bags must ensure that the bags meet the requirements as defined in the law.
The law defines reusable bags as ones that:
Are made of polypropylene fabric, PET non-woven fabric, nylon, cloth, hemp product, or other washable fabric;
Have stitched handles;
Are designed and manufactured for multiple reuses.
To help New Jersey businesses prepare, the New Jersey Business Action Center (NJBAC), part of the New Jersey Department of State, and the DEP have developed online resources. The State’s business-focused website Business.NJ.gov as well as the DEP website feature the latest information on the law. The business experts on the NJBAC website’s Live Chat and at 1-800-Jersey-7 are available 8am-5pm, Monday-Friday, for the information you need to comply with the new law.
Future resources for businesses on the website will include a listing of vendors who sell reusable carryout bags that meet the new requirements. In addition, the NJBAC will be conducting virtual roundtables discussing implementation of the law with Chambers of Commerce and other business organizations around the State.
Under the new law, polystyrene foam food service products and foods sold or provided in polystyrene foam food service products will also be banned as of May 4, 2022, and food service businesses will only be allowed to provide single-use plastic straws by request starting Nov. 4, 2021.
However, the following products will be exempt for an additional two years, until May 4, 2024:
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 the DEP.
Additional online resources for the general public may be found on the NJ Clean Communities website’s www.BagUpNJ.com and www.njclean.org.