There’s plenty of time to prepare for NJ’s plastic bag ban
You've got 18 months to get used to the fact that your groceries will no longer be placed in plastic or paper bags on your way out of the store.
And just 12 months to prepare for no plastic straw in your drink at a restaurant — if you want one, you'll need to request one.
May 2022 is the launch date for a New Jersey law, signed by Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday, that prohibits the use of single-use plastic and paper bags in all stores and food service businesses, as well as disposable cups and food containers made out of polystyrene foam (for example, Styrofoam), in order to reduce pollution and harm caused to the environment
The straw portion of the law kicks in next November.
"There is always a phase-in period and this is a very generous one," said Judith Enck, president of Beyond Plastics. "The good thing for New Jersey is over 50 local governments have already adopted different pieces of this law ... Many residents of New Jersey are already in the habit of reducing their plastic footprint. So this is not going to be a seismic shift for them."
For those who do not live in one of these ahead-of-the-game municipalities, the list of which ranges from quaint seaside towns to populous urban cities, your time to prepare starts now, environmentalists say.
"It gives the ability for towns and community organizations and advocacy groups to let people know that we are going to be making a big transition," said Doug O'Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. "That is ample time to get everybody ready to move towards a sustainable future."
The biggest expected behavioral change, O'Malley said, is a new reliance on reusable bags. Your purchase of a single toothpaste tube won't be tossed into a single-use bag at the checkout counter, nor will hundreds of dollars' worth of groceries.
"This is a small change that will have a huge impact," O'Malley said. "The simple fact is that something we use for 15 minutes should not end up in our environment and communities for endless generations."
As part of the measure, hundreds of thousands of dollars will be used each year for three years on statewide information and education related to the law's changes.
A press release from environmental leaders noted people should not just rely on thicker plastic bags of their own when heading out to the store. The definition of "reusable bag," they said, is central to eliminating single-use plastic bags.
Environmentalists consider New Jersey's law as the strongest in the country to reduce single-use waste.
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.