New Jersey’s Ban on Single-Use Plastic Products to Take Effect in Less Than One Year

Last November, Governor Phil Murphy signed into law P.L. 2020, c117, which prohibits the use of single-use plastic carryout bags

in all stores and food service businesses statewide and single-use paper carryout bags in grocery stores that occupy at least 2,500 square feet beginning May 4, 2022. The law is designed to reduce pollution and protect New Jersey’s environment and economy for generations to come.

This means:

  • Residents, it’s time to start updating old habits, and
  • Businesses, it’s time to prepare now for the new requirements.

“With the enactment of the single-use plastic ban, New Jersey, is again leading in protecting our environment, communities, and economy,” said DEP Acting Commissioner LaTourette. “Resistant to natural degradation, single-use plastics have long littered our communities and harmed our waterways and the wildlife that depend on them. Plastic pollution also has a detrimental effect on character of our communities and damages important industries like tourism and fishing—both major contributors to New Jersey’s economy. The steps we take together to reduce plastic pollution will improve quality of life for all New Jersey residents.”

“We love New Jersey beaches, forests and waterways, and we want to protect them for current and future resident and visitors to enjoy,” Secretary Way said. “We’re here to support New Jersey’s businesses as they make the transition to reusable bags. We understand that these changes take time. We’ll be here to help business owners understand the law and answer any questions they may have as we look ahead to May 2022.”[1]

What This Means for Businesses

Beginning next May 4th (2022), New Jersey businesses may not provide or sell single-use plastic carryout bags to their customers.  They may sell or provide reusable carryout bags which must meet the following requirements:

  • They must be made of polypropylene fabric, PET non-woven fabric, nylon, cloth, hemp product, or other washable fabric; and
  • Have stitched handles; and
  • Be designed and manufactured for multiple reuses.

Under the new law, polystyrene foam food service products and foods sold or provided in polystyrene foam food service products will also be banned as of May 4, 2022, and food service businesses will only be allowed to provide single-use plastic straws by request starting Nov. 4th of this year.

Some products will be exempt for an additional two years, until May 4, 2024, to give businesses further time to prepare:

  • 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 the DEP.

Business Resources

The New Jersey Business Action Center (NJBAC), which is part of the New Jersey Department of State, and the DEP have developed online resources to help New Jersey businesses prepare.  Resources include:

  • A DEP FAQ page which covers requirements, timetables, penalties and enforcement information, as well as links to additional information.
  • The NJBAC is also offering virtual “roundtables”, or webinars, available to all organizations interested in educating their constituencies about the new law. Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to request a roundtable. 
  • Future resources for businesses on the website will include a listing of vendors who sell reusable carryout bags that meet the new requirements.
  • Additional online resources for the general public may be found on the NJ Clean Communities website’s https://www.BagUpNJ.com and njclean.org.

Residents

We all will need to “Bag Up” to join the many New Jerseyans who already tote their reusable bags with them when shopping.  Going strawless when we place our drink order at a restaurant will hopefully become our new norm.  For those who love their straws, the law allows straws by request, but better yet would be bringing with you your own glass or stainless-steel straw with cute little container. 

With the implementation of this new law New Jersey will take a leadership role in national efforts to reduce consumption habits and our reliance on a throwaway culture.  This is a win for the natural environment: our wildlife, our rivers, and our oceans; and a cleaner, greener future for New Jersey. 

[1] https://www.nj.gov/dep/newsrel/2021/21_0505.htm