On Thursday, September 24th, the NJ Assembly will vote on A1978, which seeks to prohibit the provision or sale of single-use plastic carryout bags, single-use paper carryout bags, and polystyrene foam food service products, and limit the provision of single-use plastic straws. The Senate version, S864, passed the Senate on March 5th, split along party lines, with 22 Senators voting Yes, and 14 voting No.
If A1978 passes the Assembly, both bills will head to Governor Murphy’s desk for signing into law. According to the provisions of the bill, a store or food service business would be prohibited from providing or selling a single-use plastic carryout bag to a customer, and a grocery store would be prohibited from providing or selling a single-use paper carryout bag to a customer 18 months after the effective date of the bill.
There are some exceptions. The prohibitions in the bill would not apply to:
(1) a bag used solely to contain or wrap uncooked meat, fish, or
(2) a bag used solely to package loose items such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, coffee, grains, baked goods, candy, greeting cards, flowers, or small hardware items;
(3) a bag used solely to contain live animals, such as fish or insects sold in a pet store;
(4) a bag used solely to contain food sliced or prepared to order, including soup or hot food;
(5) a laundry, dry cleaning, or garment bag;
(6) a bag provided by a pharmacy to carry prescription drugs;
(7) a newspaper bag; and
(8) any similar bag, as determined by the Department of Environmental
The ban would also not apply to a reusable carryout bag, including those made of polypropylene, PET nonwoven fabric, nylon, cloth, hemp products, or other machine washable fabric; has stitched handles; and is designed and manufactured for multiple reuses.
The bill would also ban the usage of polystyrene foam food containers.