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What Does No Plastic Bag Law Mean To You As A Consumer?

Apr 11, 2022

What does the No Plastic Bag Law mean to you as a consumer?  It means you have to bring your own page to almost every store you shop at after May 4, 2022.  Don’t expect to be given a paper bag because paper bags are also banned except for small stores.  More than likely small stores will opt to not carry paper bags or charge you for a paper bag.  Single-use plastic bags are outlawed altogether.

Why did Governor Phil Murphy and the New Jersey Legislature pass the No Plastic Bag Law?  Here is the rationale outlined in the Legislation for single-use plastic bags.

The Legislature, therefore, determines that it is no longer conscionable to permit the unfettered use and disposal of single-use plastics in the State; that New Jersey must do its part to minimize plastic pollution in the ocean, and to ensure that future generations have a clean and healthy environment to live, work, and recreate in; that banning or limiting the use of single-use plastic carryout bags, polystyrene foam foodservice products, and single-use plastic straws is a significant step in this effort, as these items are among the most significant sources of beach and ocean pollution; that New Jersey joins several other states and hundreds of municipalities across the country in banning or limiting the use of single-use plastics; and that such bans and limitations have drastically lowered consumer consumption of single-use plastics.

The rationale for Paper bags is a little less forceful.

The Legislature further finds that single-use paper carryout bags use as much or more energy and resources to manufacture and transport than single-use plastic carryout bags and contribute to harmful air emissions. Consequently, the Legislature further determines that it is in the public interest to prohibit grocery stores from providing single-use paper carryout bags.

Lastly, the Legislature added that they want to encourage the use of hemp-based packaging. The Hemp may explain how paper bags got banned along with plastic bags.  When you have to state the rationale for banning paper bags is that “single-use paper carryout bags use as much or more energy and resources to manufacture and transport than single-use plastic carryout bags and contribute to harmful air emissions.” You have to throw in banning paper bags will help the new New Jersey Hemp business.  For the record, paper bags in landfill conditions will decompose within 6 to 8 weeks.  It makes little sense to outlaw paper bags at New Jersey Grocery Stores but I guess it will save large Grocery Stores the expense of providing paper bags. Don’t worry Governor and Legislatures, the remaining residents of New Jersey can handle another indirect tax for grocery shopping, i.e. pay for your own grocery bags.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) along with the local municipality can enforce the No Plastic Bag Law.  The fines for violating the law are significant after an initial warning there are fines of up to $1,000 per day and $5,000 per day after a third or subsequent violation.  Violations of a continuing nature constitute an additional, separate, and distinct offense for each day that is deemed a violation. Yikes, there are more fines to a local grocery store than to the quasi State Agency the New Jersey Sports and Exhibition Authority (NJSEA) that owns the Keegan Landfill in Kearny that at one time was emitting toxic hydrogen sulfide gas into the community.  There were no daily $5,000 fines levied for violations of the New Jersey Clean Air Act.  If you are interested in more information on the Keegan Landfill visit

The law also provides that any entity certified pursuant to the “County Environmental Health Act” is authorized to enforce the law.  It is not clear who can be certified by the County Environmental Health Act to be a Local Sheriff to enforce the “No Plastic Bag Law”.

The definition of a “Store” in the law is any grocery store, convenience store, liquor store, pharmacy, drug store, or other retail establishments.

A “Food Service Business” is defined as a business that sells or provides food for consumption on or off the premises, including establishments such as a restaurant, café, delicatessen, coffee shop, convenience store, grocery store, vending truck or cart, food truck, movie theater or  business or institutional cafeteria including those operated by a government entity.

So if you are ordering takeout or taking leftovers home with you, do you need to bring your plastic bag with you to the restaurant.  No.  The law allows an exception to restaurants, convenience stores, pharmacies, and stores 2500 square feet and under to provide paper bags.

You cannot purchase plastic or paper bags at Grocery stores larger than 2500 square feet so come prepared with your own single-use plastic bag, paper bags, or reusable plastic bag come May 4, 2022, with you when you go grocery shopping. 

Tell us what you think of New Jersey’s No Plastic Bag Law on our Discussion Board