TRENTON, NJ – A new law on Wednesday that will prohibit the use of single-use plastic and paper bags in all stores and food service businesses statewide was signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy Wednesday. Supporters say the legislation is a significant step to reduce harm and pollution that these products cause to the environment, and that it will be the strongest bag-ban in the United States.

“If you go to the shore, you see plastic buried in the sand and floating in the ocean. There are an estimated 150 million metric tons of plastics currently in our oceans and about eight million metric tons are added each year,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex), the law's sponsor. “We have heard from countless activists and residents around the state, and they have made it clear that they are sick of plastics polluting our ecosystem. Now that this bill is signed by the Governor, New Jersey is closer than ever to a cleaner, greener future.”

Beginning in May 2022, both plastic and paper single-use bags, as well as disposable food containers and cups made out of polystyrene foam, will be banned. Paper bags require resources and energy to produce, contributing to pollution. Moving forward, the focus throughout the state will be on using reusable bags. The following products will be exempt for an additional two years after May 2022:

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     * Disposable, long-handled polystyrene foam soda spoons when required and used for thick drinks;

     * Portion cups of two ounces or less, if used for hot foods or foods requiring lids;

     * Meat and fish trays for raw or butchered meat, including poultry, or fish that is sold from a refrigerator or similar retail appliance;

     * Any food product pre-packaged by the manufacturer with a polystyrene foam food service product; and

     * Any other polystyrene foam food service product as determined necessary by Department of Environmental Protection.

Under the new law, food service businesses will be allowed to provide single-use plastic straws only upon request starting November 2021.

"Plastic bags are one of the most problematic forms of garbage, leading to millions of discarded bags that stream annually into our landfills, rivers, and oceans," said Murphy. "With today's historic bill signing, we are addressing the problem of plastic pollution head-on with solutions that will help mitigate climate change and strengthen our environment for future generations."

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