The New Jersey Senate pulled a bill paring down the state’s disposable bag ban from its agenda after Democratic senators requested changes that would require a new educational component and exempt food banks from the ban for years. The proposed changes will likely keep the measure from reaching Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk before the year’s end, said Sen. Bob Smith (D-Middlesex), the bill’s prime sponsor.
Since the bag ban went into effect in May, lawmakers have heard complaints from residents who say they accumulate reusable bags every time they have food delivered, a buildup that threatens to undercut the law’s goal of reducing plastic pollution. As a fix, the bill that was going to be heard would allow grocers or third-party delivery services to deliver food in cardboard boxes, reusable bags, or disposable paper bags made of at least 40% recycled materials for three years after its passage.
It would also require grocery stores or delivery services that use reusable bags for home deliveries or pickup orders to create programs to reuse or recycle those bags. In the meantime, Smith suggested people with excess bags give them to charities. “These bags are a lot more than welcome at a community food bank, and there’s a community bank probably within five miles or less of everybody in New Jersey. We have hundreds of them,” Smith said. “You’d be doing a mitzvah — a good deed — by donating them to the good bank.”