New Jersey Goes Green: How local stores will be affected by the plastic bag ban


New Jersey’s plastic bag ban, slated to be the nation’s strictest, will go into effect on May 4. 


The bill, as explained in the NJ Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) new “Get Past Plastic” website, places a ban on all single-use plastic bags, and goes one step further to ban paper bags at large grocery stores. Stores are encouraged, but not required, to sell or give away reusable bags.


Signed in November 2020, the bill was given an 18-month grace period for stores and consumers statewide to prepare. 


Some of the “large grocery stores,” which the bill defines as any grocery store over 2,500 square feet, heavily impacted by the ban are the Wegmans in Nassau Park Pavilion and the McCaffrey’s in the Southfield Commons and Princeton Shopping Centers. These stores will no longer be permitted to sell plastic or paper bags; however, companywide surveys have shown that the vast majority of customers at these supermarkets already own reusable bags, prompting these supermarkets to post signs reminding consumers to bring their own bags (BYOB), according to their respective Human Resources departments.

Both Target and Costco also qualify as a large grocery store, and will be implementing similar BYOB policies, according to their HR departments.


Department stores, like JCPenney and Macy’s in the Quaker Bridge Mall in Lawrence Township, will transition into using paper bags. Clarence Jones, general manager of the JCPenney at the Quaker Bridge Mall, said, “The company has been preparing for the plastic bag ban and will adopt a new policy similar to the one they have in place in other states with preexisting bans.” He added that “the consumer grows smarter every day, and I think this policy moves New Jersey a step to a greener, and brighter future.”


Retail stores like Best Buy and Dick’s Sporting Goods in the Nassau Park Pavilion in Princeton have also had to adjust to paper bags. Both stores have already begun using paper bags months before the ban is set to be in effect, according to company representatives.

Visit to learn more about the ban.