A new law in the Garden State bans packing peanuts and aims to ensure that recyclable products are made up of a certain amount of recycled material in the first place.

The legislation signed into law, which takes effect in two years, is intended to reduce virgin plastic use, and is expected by environmentalists to make New Jersey an East Coast leader on the issue.

"This bill will help reduce plastic consumption and pollution of our waterways and ocean," said Cindy Zipf, executive director of Long Branch-based Clean Ocean Action.

The proposed law states that after two years, rigid plastic containers will be required to contain at least 10% post-consumer recycled content (15% for bottles). Those percentages would have to increase to 50% over time. The bill sets content standards and benchmarks for glass containers, paper and plastic carryout bags, and plastic trash bags.

The next step for the legislation is the rulemaking process, which will occur through the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

The law also prohibits the sale of polystyrene loose fill packaging, aka foam plastic packing peanuts.

Lawmakers believe the move will bolster New Jersey's recycling industry — the rate of plastics recycling hovers around 9%.

"Over the past few years, other countries such as China have decided to no longer buy most plastic waste content. New Jersey has an opportunity to enhance our market for plastics, and this will allow us to be at the forefront of a transitioning recycling industry," said Assembly sponsors of the legislation that became law on Tuesday.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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