11 • 04 • 2020
Bag Legislation in NJ
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.
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. Surfrider joined several other environmental groups asking the Governor to veto this bill thinking we could get a bag ban instead.
Soonafter, S 2776 was introduced to ban plastic bags, put a fee on paper bags, and it also banned plastic straws and expanded polystyrene foam in food containers. While this passed in the NJ Senate, the Assembly never took it up in 2019.
In 2020 it became S 864 and A 1978 and they ban plastic film bags entirely, ban paper bags in larger stores, ban foam in foodware, and make plastic straws available only upon request. This passed the full Senate in March of 2020 but COVID-19 caused delays and the Assembly did not hear the bill until September. An exemption was added for bags made from a hemp bioplastic. Both houses passed the amended bills on Sept 24, 2020.
NJ Governor Phil Murphy signed the bill on November 4, 2020 making it law - https://www.nj.com/news/2020/11/plastic-bags-banned-in-nj-as-murphy-signs-new-law.html