In November of 2020, Gov. Phil Murphy signed the plastic bag ban into law. This barred grocery stores from giving customers single use paper and plastic bags, and placed penalties into effect for those who violate the order. Single-use paper carryout bags are allowed to be provided or sold, except by grocery stores equal to or larger than 2,500 square feet, which may only provide or sell reusable carryout bags (Business.NJ.Gov). According to New Jersey Monitor, violators first face a warning, then a $1,000 fine that jumps to $5,000 for their third breach and any thereafter.
If the Department of Environmental Protection determines that there is no cost-effective non-plastic substitute, plastic objects might be added to the list of exemptions. Exemptions are valid for a year and can be renewed.
This law previously halted the distribution of plastic straws, ensuring that restaurants only provided them when specifically asked.
The truth is, these laws have already shown tremendous impacts, with the upshot of the Sydney study showing the California bag ban reduced plastic bag consumption by 71.5% – a huge decrease (The Truth About Plastic Bags).
Plastic is never the better choice. Throughout both manufacturing and usage, it constantly pollutes and has proved to be hazardous. Furthermore, it is a dangerous threat to marine and land-based species and in the end, must be destroyed or buried, even after a lifetime of being recycled. Bag bans will not solve the plastic challenge on their own, but they will assist to shift plastic consumption habits and encourage consumers and retailers to consider alternatives (Conservation Law Foundation).
The Dangers of Single Use Plastic (Conservation Law Foundation)
- Humanitarian impacts of plastic production, such as the cancerous toxins unleashed by manufacturing plants on low-income communities are just the beginning
- Burden of plastic bags, straws and waste on marine animals, such as whales and sea turtles
- Toxic fumes released by waste incinerators when plastic is burned
All in all, even in a world pre-ban, consumers are more likely to bring reusable bags when penalties on paper bags are included in single-use plastic bag bans. A cotton bag can be reused hundreds of times and composted after it’s no longer needed. With all this considered, plastic is always more harmful and damaging than the alternatives.