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From an environmental perspective, the ban on single-use bags that took effect in May 2022 has been a success. According to NorthJersey.com, the ban has eliminated approximately 68 million paper bags and 3 billion plastic bags since the law was enacted. However, there are still certain aspects of the ban that some New Jersey businesses and their customers are finding problematic.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of people who have their groceries and essential goods delivered by supermarkets and third-party delivery services is higher than ever before. Currently, those customers must pay for reusable bags to hold their delivered goods and then are left with no means to dispose of those bags, essentially turning them into “single-use” bags anyway.
A new bill (S3114/A4741) winding its way through the legislature aims to correct this issue. If passed, it would require stores and delivery services to establish a “takeback” program to collect and sanitize the reusable bags, recycle the reusable bags or donate them to food pantries. The bill would also allow grocery stores to use recycled paper bags and cardboard boxes for home deliveries for the next three (3) years. Paper bags would remain off-limits to in-store shoppers.