PATERSON, NJ- With the Paterson Museum in the midst of a plastic bag free month challenge as part of their Eco-Chic 2 program, highlighting the deleterious impact that plastic bags have on our environment, a new bill passed in June by the New Jersey Legislature is set to impose a 5-cent fee on single-use bags in chains or any store with retail space exceeding 2,000 square feet.

The bill, which has not yet been signed by Governor Murphy, would go into effect on October 1 and coincides with China’s stringent new regulations that exclude plastic bags from recycling, which as a result, means Paterson residents can no longer include them in curbside recycling collection.

Paterson resident Tamara Lugo, who recently participated in the Eco-Chic 2 summer workshop that focused on the harmful effects of plastic bags said the tax is a “great idea because it will bring awareness to the damage that plastic bags are causing to our environment.”

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The tax, she believes, would change consumer’s habits as they would prefer to buy a reusable bag instead to avoid paying extra for the single use plastic bags.

Some critics call for stricter legislation, advocating for the ban of plastic altogether.

“We shouldn’t be using plastics at all, even if the state would wind up generating some funds from a bag fee,” Janet Tauro, Clean Water Action’s NJ Board Chair said in a prepared statement. “Some things are just more important than money like environmental and public health.”

The New Jersey Food Council (NJFC), an alliance of New Jersey food retailers and their suppliers, supports the legislation because of its universal guidelines for stores. “Our industry recognizes the need for a balanced solution...providing retailers with a uniform and standard policy, rather than forcing food stores to comply with a confusing patchwork of municipal ordinances,” the organization’s president Linda Doherty said.