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State’s ban on single-use plastic products takes effect in one year

New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Acting Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette are encouraging Garden State business owners to prepare for the launch of New Jersey’s ban on single-use carryout bags and polystyrene foam food service products in stores and food service businesses.

According to a press release, on Nov. 4, 2020, Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation into law which prohibits the use of single-use plastic carryout bags in all stores and food service businesses statewide, and single-use paper carryout bags in grocery stores that occupy at least 2,500 square feet beginning May 4, 2022.

The law is designed to reduce pollution and protect New Jersey’s environment and economy for generations to come, according to the press release.

“With the enactment of the single-use plastic ban, New Jersey is again leading in protecting our environment, communities and economy,” LaTourette said. “Resistant to natural degradation, single-use plastics have long littered our communities and harmed our waterways and the wildlife that depend on them.

“Plastic pollution also has a detrimental effect on the character of our communities and damages important industries like tourism and fishing; both major contributors to New Jersey’s economy. The steps we take together to reduce plastic pollution will improve quality of life for all New Jersey residents,” LaTourette said.

According to the press release, beginning May 4, 2022, New Jersey businesses may not sell or provide single-use plastic carryout bags to their customers.

Those businesses that decide to sell or provide reusable carryout bags must ensure the bags meet the requirements as defined in the law.

The law defines reusable bags as ones that are made of polypropylene fabric, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) non-woven fabric, nylon, cloth, hemp product, or other washable fabric; have stitched handles; and are designed and manufactured for multiple reuses.

To help New Jersey businesses prepare, the New Jersey Business Action Center (NJBAC), part of the New Jersey Department of State, and the DEP have developed online resources.

The state’s business-focused website Business.NJ.gov, as well as the DEP website (www.nj.gov/dep/dshw/plastic-ban-law/), feature the latest information about the law.

The business experts on the NJBAC website’s Live Chat and at 1-800-JERSEY-7 are available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, for the information business operators need to comply with the new law, according to the press release.

Under the new law, polystyrene foam food service products and foods sold or provided in polystyrene foam food service products will also be banned as of May 4, 2022, and food service businesses will only be allowed to provide single-use plastic straws by request starting Nov. 4, 2021, according to the press release.

However, the following products will be exempt for an additional two years, until May 4, 2024:

• Disposable, long-handled polystyrene foam soda spoons when required and used for thick drinks;

• Portion cups of 2 ounces or less, if used for hot foods or foods requiring lids;

• Meat and fish trays for raw or butchered meat, including poultry, or fish that is sold from a refrigerator or similar retail appliance;

• Any food product pre-packaged by the manufacturer with a polystyrene foam food service product;

• Any other polystyrene foam food service product as determined necessary by the DEP.

Additional online resources for the general public may be found on the NJ Clean Communities website’s www.BagUpNJ.com and www.njclean.org

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