No paper bags for New Jersey food deliveries.
Not for several months.
As part of a statewide sustainability strategy to reduce waste, New Jersey’s single-use bag ban—likely the strongest in the nation—bans supermarkets, restaurants, and other companies from giving out plastic bags since May.
Selling Styrofoam-like items is prohibited.
The November 2020 law bans paper bags at big box shops and supermarket stores above 2,500 square feet (which is the most).
After state citizens accumulated reusable bags, officials suggested paper bags for internet orders.
The bill to amend the ban (S-3114) would allow grocery stores in the state to offer customers the option of having their purchases delivered in cardboard boxes (similar to how some Costco shoppers carry out items), dropped off in a container left out by the customer, or in paper bags made of 40% post-consumer recycled content. The bill limited paper bags to three years.
New Jersey retailers and third-party services like Shipt, Uber Eats, and Postmates would also have to take back extra reusable bags and reuse or recycle them, sanitize them for consumers, or donate them to food banks.
After eight months, state Sen. Bob Smith, D-Middlesex, who introduced the restriction, claimed the reusable bag issue has waned.
“The issue with the third-party suppliers is going to resolve itself,” Smith told NJ Advance Media during an offshore wind energy event at Rutgers University in Piscataway.
Smith, who chairs the Senate Environment and Energy Committee, said entities like Gov. Phil Murphy’s Plastics Advisory Council are evaluating the ban’s effects and recommending future actions.
“The measure includes at least four common sense remedies but there’s still requests… to acquire a bit more experience in the market and then do the amendments,” Smith said Thursday. I expect this conversation to last six months before a decision is made.
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Based on shop usage, the plastic bag ban eliminated 4.8 billion plastic bags and 95.9 million paper bags from the waste stream from May to December 2022, according to the NJ Food Council, which represents 1,400 supermarkets, independent grocers, and convenience stores.
“We commend Chairman Smith’s work on the bag ban that marks an astonishing reduction of billions of single-use bags in just 7 months that used to clog our solid waste stream,” NJ Food Council president and CEO Linda Doherty said Thursday.
“As we speak, industry and stakeholders are designing a bag redistribution solution to bridge the gap in-home delivery and we expect trial initiatives to begin soon that will generate a source of reusable bags for food banks and pantries, elderly organizations, and people in need,” Doherty said.
The DEP has exempted food pantries from the bag restriction since May, according to Smith. The second ban reprieve length was unknown.
Meanwhile, Smith advised residents to donate their reusable bags to local groups.
The senator strongly opposed reintroducing plastic bags for online grocery deliveries or other businesses in New Jersey.
Smith said, “No way.”