TRENTON, NJ --  Retail stores and food service businesses across the state may soon be prohibited from providing single-use plastic bags, paper bags, and polystyrene foam cups and food containers to their customers under a proposed law sponsored by Senator Linda Greenstein.  While the measure would not ban plastic straws outright, they would only be available upon request in an effort to promote paper straws.

"If you have been to the beach you can see it with your own eyes, our beaches are polluted with plastics. Children dig them up in the sand and swimmers pull plastic bags out of the water. There are an estimated 150 million metric tons of plastics currently in our oceans and about eight-million additional metric tons are added each year," said Greenstein (D-Mercer / Middlesex), who serves as vice-chair of the Senate Environment and Energy Committee

"New Jersey residents are sick of plastics polluting our most treasured features. We have heard from countless numbers of activists and residents of this state, and they have spoken clearly that they are done with plastic pollution. New Jersey will now be on the path to a future without plastic pollution," added Greenstein. 

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A similar ban took effect in New York state on March 1. If the New Jersey law passed, the ban on single-use plastics, paper bags, and polystyrene containers which would take effect two years from its signing.

The state would establish a program to assist businesses with complying with provisions of the bill.  Any businesses in violation of any provision of the bill would be subject to a warning for a first offense, up to $1,000 for a second offense, and up to $5,000 for a third or subsequent offense. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), municipalities and counties certified under the "County Environmental Health Act" would have the authority to enforce the provisions of the bill. All penalties collected would go to the existing Clean Communities Fund.

Studies have revealed that when plastics break down over time they become tiny microplastics. Microplastics are mistaken for food by birds and marine life, and they have become a part of the food chain.

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