Jersey Shore

Bag Legislation in NJ

Active | January 12 2014

Plastic Pollution

Both Chapters in NJ want statewide legislation on plastic bags.

Both the South Jersey and Jersey Shore Chapters have supported statewide legislation on plastic bags in NJ in the form of either a ban or a fee. Such legislation never went far in the legislature despite legislative hearings in 2012. The South Jersey Chapter especially focused on local legislation and got the first town ordinance in NJ passed in 2015 in Longport, NJ. More recent statewide bill putting fees on bags had the money going to the state to a fund to help remove lead paint from old housing. This is an important problem, but not one that we associate with plastic bags. 

Such a bill with a 5 cent fee on both paper and plastic bags moved in the 2017-2018 legislative session but had many other shortcomings such as an exemption for stores under 2000 square feet, and exemptions for seniors, and SNAP recipients. Attempts were made to have a 3267 and S 2600 amended but they were not successful. 

On June 20, 2018 that bill passed both houses of the legislature, despite the calls from Surfrider and other environmental groups to vote no on the bill in hopes of getting a better bill later. 

Then environmental groups starting urging the Governor to veto the bill or conditionally veto the bill. Surfrider and others are calling for a ban on plastic bags, and for those other loopholes to be closed. Furthermore, we do not want existing local laws that include bans and fees to be superseded by the new state law. Chapters were successful in getting the Governor to veto this flawed legislation. 

The focus now is on a new bill, S 2776 that would ban plastic bags, put a fee on paper bags, and it would also ban plastic straws and expanded polystyrene foam in food containers. This is a huge steps and it would be the most comprehensive plastic law in the country. 

It passed the Senate Environment Committee in an amended form, linked above, and has gone to the Budget and Appropriations Committee. There has been no action on the Assembly side. Because half of the fee would go to the merchants and the other half would go to the state, it is therefore a budget issue. NJ's budget is due on July 1st so we expect lots of activity on the last two weeks of June 2019. 

Plastic Pollution

Rise Above Plastics is designed to eliminate the impacts of plastics in the marine environment by raising awareness about the dangers of plastic pollution and by advocating for a reduction of single-use plastics and the recycling of all plastics.

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Looking for more information?

John Weber Jweber@surfrider.org