On Thursday, the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee voted to release S-2776, which would ban all retail and food service businesses from providing or selling a single-use plastic carryout bags to customers. This ban would take effect in one year. Larger grocery stores also would be banned from providing or selling single-use paper carryout bags to customers. The paper bag ban would take effect in one year.
The bill would also ban polystyrene foam food service products from being sold within two years. This would include not only takeout containers, but any food container as well as plates, cups, meat or vegetable trays, cutlery and egg cartons. The bill was amended in committee to mandate that larger grocery stores provide free reusable bags to customers for the first two months of the ban, an expense estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars to the supermarket industry.
Senator Bob Smith, D-17, sponsor and main proponent of the bill, stated that this will be the most stringent and far reaching plastic ban legislation in the nation. Senator Smith and the committee ignored pleas from the business community for amendments, similar to those adopted in other states, which would have made the bill more workable and less impactful to businesses and their customers. The mandate to provide free reusable bags only imposes additional and unreasonable costs.
NJBIA’s testimony focused on retailers’ need to contain costs, especially in a high-cost and regulatory state such as New Jersey, and to allow businesses to better serve their customers. We also called for the removal of the polystyrene ban until adequate and cost-effective alternatives are available in the marketplace. This bill would impose a ban first, and hope alternatives are developed later.
NJBIA will continue to push for amendments that protect the business community. The next step will be in the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee on Monday and then the Assembly Budget Committee.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact Ray Cantor at firstname.lastname@example.org.