Beginning April 1, an ordinance that will prohibit retail establishments from providing single-use plastic carry-out bags will go into effect. It was unaimously passed by the Municipal Council in Sept. 2019.
Establishments will have to make available to customers, for a fee from zero to 25 cents, compliant bags: either recyclable paper bags or cloth reusable bags with handles or other washable fabric designed for multiple use.
After April 1, any establishment that fails to comply with the ordinance, after an initial written warning notice, will be fined:
• $100 after the first violation, or
• $200 after the second, or
• $500 after the third and subsequent violations.
According to information outlined in the ordinance, less than 5 percent of plastic bags used are recycled. Over 4 billion single-use bags are used by New Jersey residents alone annually.
Some 80% of ocean plastic pollution enters from land, injuring or killing over 260 species and 100,000 marine animals worldwide every year. Additionally, plastic waste degrades neighborhoods and creates litter in our parks and sewer systems, as well as rivers.
Exemptions to the ban include packaging for bulk items, such as fruit, vegetables, and nuts; frozen foods wrap; flowers or plant wrap; prepared foods or bakery goods packaging; pharmacy bags; newspaper and door-hanger bags; dry cleaning bags; garbage and yard bags; and pet waste bags.