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No Paper or Plastic: New NJ Law on Shopping Bags

By Barbara A. Preston | March 24, 2022


Blawenburg resident and environmentalist Frank Derby spoke at the February Montgomery Business Association (MBA) meeting about the plastics ban. Beginning May 4, it is illegal for stores and restaurants to provide or sell single-use plastic bags. Paper bags will also be off-limits. Plus, restaurants will no longer be able to provide Styrofoam containers. Plastic straw distribution was limited in November.

Frank Derby, Montgomery Twp Environmental Commission

“Our local government is interested in helping businesses to navigate this change,” Derby told about 50 members of the MBA who had gathered for its first in-person meeting since the pandemic began. “There are resources that are available,” he said.


Enforcement of the Ban

Businesses will get a warning for the first violation. The second violation will result in a $1,000 fine. The third violation will be a $5,000 fine. Tiger’s Tale owner Cory G. Wingerter asked who would enforce this law, and how. Derby replied: “It is coming from the state, the Department of Environmental Protection.” According to the DEP website, “The DEP, municipalities, and any entity certified by the County Environmental Health Act have the authority to enforce the single-use plastic and paper carryout bag and polystyrene foam food service product provisions of the law.” Derby says, “The notion in general is this is just unnecessary waste, and we would like to move away from a throw-away culture,” he added.


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Derby encouraged MBA members to talk to other business people in the community, particularly those in the food business, because they are going to have to pay attention to this. Gov. Phil Murphy in November 2020 signed into law the legislation that bans grocery stores, retail outlets, movie theaters, and food trucks, among other businesses, from providing customers with single-use plastic bags, or selling them. The law gave businesses more than two years to prepare for the ban.


Resources are available at business.nj.gov/bags/plastic-ban-law.


New Jersey is the ninth state to ban single-use plastic bags and the first state to ban single- use paper bags from grocery stores. California, in 2014, was the first state to pass legislation prohibiting single-use plastic bags. Single-use plastic bags are also banned in New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Oregon, Vermont, and Hawaii.


Visit the MBA at shoplocalmontgomery for more information.

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