Executive Director of the American Progressive Bag Alliance Matt Seaholm is our guest contributor this week. If you would like to be a guest contributor and write a post for our website, send an e-mail to kristen.accardi@townsquaremedia.com

By: Matt Seaholm

New Jersey politicians are one step closer to passing the nation’s most far-reaching bag ban and tax proposal to date. Included in the extreme legislation is a ban on plastic grocery bags and a minimum 10-cent tax on paper bags. Not only will this proposal fail to meaningfully reduce the state’s litter, it will also unfairly tax low-income families.

Currently, when families go to the grocery store, bags are provided to help them carry home their goods. Under this new proposal, a store must charge at least 10 cents per each bag. Now, this might not seem like a lot of money to someone who makes six figures, but this will make a significant difference to low-income families. New Jersey is already one of the most expensive places to live in the country. What makes this regressive tax worse is that the corporations will get to keep 50% of the fee. This will take money out of the pockets of families who already struggle to pay for groceries and hand that money over to corporate retailers.

So why are New Jersey legislators willingly imposing this burden on families in the state? They say it’s to reduce the amount of litter.  A recent survey conducted for the New Jersey Clean Communities Council found that when evaluating the amount and composition of litter statewide, plastic retail bags were not among the top five items found—nor the top ten. Branded plastic bags – the kind you get from the grocery store and the ones concerning recent proposals – made up just 0.8% of New Jersey litter. Plastic bags are not a major source of litter to begin with, so the bill won’t have an environmental impact. Instead, it’ll raise the price of groceries for folks across the state.

There is still time to stop this extreme piece of legislation. Call or write your state legislators and tell them to kill the grocery bag ban and tax bill. To contact your legislator, click here. You can also find more information here on why bans and taxes negatively impact working families and don’t help the environment.

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