New Law Banning Single-Use Carryout Bags and More

New Law Bans Single-Use Plastic Bags

Submitted by Sheila Leonard

There is a new law in New Jersey which will go into effect on May 4, 2022, that prohibits all stores and food service businesses from using single-use plastic carryout bags. Further, grocery stores larger than 2,500 square feet cannot sell or provide single-use paper carryout bags and must only sell or provide reusable carryout bags. Reusable carryout bags must be made of either polypropylene fabric, PET nonwoven fabric, nylon, cloth, hemp product, or other washable fabric, have stitched handles, and be designed for multiple reuses.

In addition, the law further prohibits all people and food businesses from selling or offering for sale any polystyrene foam food service products, also going into effect on May 4, 2022. Under the new law as well, food service businesses cannot sell or serve any food in polystyrene foam food service products. However, some products are exempt from the law until May 4, 2024, unless otherwise extended by the DEP (Department of Environmental Protection).

The products exempt from the law are: 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.

Additionally, this law is making food service businesses only give customers single-use plastic straws if they request one specifically, otherwise the business will not have them out for customers to take, which became effective on November 4, 2021. These businesses are required to keep a decent amount of plastic straws set aside in case of customer requests, but they can also still sell packages of single-use plastic straws as well as can provide and sell pre-packaged beverages by the manufacturer with single-use plastic straws, such as, juice boxes.

If a person or business does not comply with this New Jersey law, the first offense is a warning, the second offense will result in the person or business being fined up to $1,000 per day, and for the third offense, they may be fined up to $5,000 per day as well as subsequent violations. Additional violations of the law will result in more and distinct offenses for each day there is a violation. The DEP, municipalities, and anyone certified to the “County Environmental Health Act” are authorized to enforce the law.

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