TRENTON (WCBS 880) — A bill banning the use of single-use plastic and paper bags in New Jersey was sent for Gov. Phil Murphy’s approval on Thursday.
State lawmakers passed the legislation, which would also ban plastic and styrofoam containers from being used throughout the state, during the day and sent it for the governor’s signature.
“It’s probably the most important and most comprehensive packaging and plastic bill in the country,” said Jeff Tittle, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.
He hailed lawmakers for passing the legislation and says it was a “big win for our environment.”
Tittle notes that adding paper in the ban was an important part of the bill.
“So we can help education and transition our economy to greener and better packaging bags,” Tittle said.
Murphy has indicated he would sign a bill but, understands there are some concerns among the business community about added costs.
When signed, it will take 18 months for the law to take effect. Tittle notes the year and a half will be used to educate business owners about environmentally friendly packaging.
“That’s why having a year and a half for education and to implement this legislation, once it’s signed, is an important part of it,” Tittle said.
The legislation also targets plastic straws and makes it so restaurant-goers must request a straw if they need one.
Tittle says he doesn’t expect it will be much of a culture shock as many New Jersey towns already have similar bans in place.
New Jersey will begin enforcing the rule in 2021 and fines are steep for businesses that fail to adhere to the new guidelines. Repeat offenders can be fined up to at least $5,000.
Eight states have banned plastic bags, including New York State. While the ban there took effect in early 2020, New York will begin to enforce the ban on Oct. 19, due to setbacks from the coronavirus pandemic.