NJ bag ban includes pickup, delivery orders — NJ senator wants to change that
One of New Jerseyans' biggest concerns regarding the upcoming prohibition on single-use plastic bags is the target of upcoming legislation from a Republican state senator.
Sen. Kristin Corrado, R-Passaic, wants to exempt online orders for home delivery or pickup from the statewide ban that kicks in on May 4. Grocery stores larger than 2,500 square feet will also be blocked from providing single-use paper bags to customers.
"Since the pandemic forced residents to find new ways to get their groceries, people have become hooked on the convenience of placing online orders and having bags delivered to their homes," Corrado said. "Now that's in jeopardy as grocers across the state are scrambling to find solutions to the pending bag crisis."
New Jersey's upcoming ban was signed into law on Nov. 4, 2020, giving businesses and consumers 18 months to prepare for the shift. But Corrado says today, less than a month before the ban kicks in, New Jerseyans who rely on home delivery and curbside pickup have no idea how the process will work or how much more it may cost them.
Kari Martin, with Long Branch-based Clean Ocean Action, said any potential exemption must be examined very carefully. When the proposed bag ban was being debated pre-pandemic, she said, no one expected the popularity of online orders to skyrocket like they have, but the original intent of the law was to reduce plastic pollution.
"During this time we should've come up with something, as it's just a month away," Martin said. "I think it's time to come up with better solutions and innovative solutions, whether it be boxes ... or some kind of return program."
As recently as late March, supermarkets in New Jersey could not offer us specifics on their plans for handling online orders.
"Right now, my constituents are telling me they are worried that extra charges will be applied to their orders to compensate for the cost of reusable bags that they won't be able to utilize. Given the impact of inflation on prices, their concern levels are elevated," Corrado said.
The New Jersey Food Council, which represents supermarkets, said on Wednesday that it had no comment on Corrado's plans because full language of the proposed law has not yet been seen.
According to the New Jersey Clean Communities Council, one of the groups charged with raising awareness about the upcoming ban, the issue of pickup/delivery orders is one of the most common concerns among New Jersey residents.
On March 25, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law giving New Jersey food banks and pantries a 6-month extension on getting in line with the bag ban.