New Jersey could soon require stores to impose a $0.05 fee for plastic bags

Legislation to discourage the use of single-use carryout plastic bags and reduce the damaging impact they have on the environment was approved today by the Assembly. The bill was sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Nancy Pinkin and John McKeon.

“Most stores have made the change and now provide more environmentally friendly bags for customers,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “This bill encourages more stores to get on board and move away from using the bags that are harmful to the environment.”

“Plastic bags are very disruptive to the environment,” said Pinkin (D-Middlesex). “They wash up in our waterways, are hazardous to marine life and even pollute the air when burned at landfills. This can help encourage more stores to make environmentally responsible choices when it comes to shopping bags.”

“We have to do more to protect the environment against climate change and other environmental concerns,” said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). “There are many more eco-friendly options available to stores than plastic bags. This bill will encourage more stores to go green.”

The bill (A-3267) would establish a fee on the use of single-use carryout bags provided by certain types of stores to customers and dedicate revenue from the fee to the “Healthy Schools and Community Lead Abatement Fund.”

Specifically, beginning on October 1, 2018, the bill would require each operator of a store to impose a $0.05 fee on a customer for each single-use carryout bag that is provided to the customer. However, the bill provides that no fee would be charged if the customer is enrolled as a participant in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), or the Work First New Jersey program.

Under the bill, a store is defined as a drug store, supermarket, or retail establishment that has more than 2,000 square feet of retail space or is part of a chain, and that provides carryout bags to its customers as a result of the sale of a product; and single-use carryout bag is defined as any bag that is not a reusable carryout bag, and would include single-use compostable and non-compostable plastic bags and paper bags. The definition would not include any non-handled bag intended to separate and prevent an item from damaging or contaminating another item.

Moneys in the “Healthy Schools and Community Lead Abatement Fund” would be used by the Department of Environmental Protection, in consultation with the Department of Education, the Department of Community Affairs, and the Department of Health, for lead abatement in schools and communities, including: removal and replacement of water fountains, plumbing, and pipes that contain lead; stripping lead paint from schools and residential dwellings; and other lead abatement programs.

The bill also would require the DEP to establish a public information program which addresses the harmful environmental effects caused by single-use carryout bags, and encourages consumers to use reusable carryout bags for retail shopping. The public information program would include information on the fee charged for single-use carryout bags pursuant to the bill.

Finally, the bill would supersede or preempt any municipal and county rules, regulations, codes, and ordinances concerning the regulation or prohibition of single-use carryout bags or fees charged for those bags, except that the bill would not supersede or preempt any municipal or county rule, regulation, code, or ordinance establishing a prohibition on single-use carryout bags adopted prior to the date the bill is enacted into law. The bill would take effect immediately.

The bill was approved 41-32-0 by the Assembly and now awaits further consideration by the Senate.

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  1. I don’t see what the big deal is or how it could be seen as such an inconvenience. Keep reusable bags in your car or with you when you know you may be shopping. Yes, while it is easier to get bags from the store, plastic bags end up on our roads and polluting our community when not disposed properly. Even when they are, they take a very long time to decompose in landfills. By charging us for bags, people think twice before frivolously throwing it away. #doyourpart

  2. When reusable shopping begs were tested they were found to contain massive amounts of bacteria and other pathogens including E. coli. since shoppers rarely wash them, and use them for raw meats, vegetables, and other foods interchangeably. Another brilliant liberal solution….

  3. Ari and Lin you people don’t realize how hard when you raise children and by adding more material and taxes it hurt families with children and we are not interested in Blah Blah ideas of increasing taxes or shopping bags crazy situations. Please think before you speak because I think democratic aren’t realistic thinking about people lives by adding taxes. It hurting our nation of people who really love their families and don’t want spend more money on government taxes. Which is unnecessary.

  4. Not sure what this has to do with lkwd, we don’t know what a single-use bag is! We all reuse them to throw out diapers! Or if you don’t have babies I’m sure you have other uses for them… even if they pass the law, it shouldn’t apply to us

  5. Here goes again! If your on government programs sitting pretty at home you don’t have to pay! But if your working three jobs just to support your family and aren’t eligible for snap then welcome another tax. They seriously don’t want anyone to work ever!!!

  6. Oh and I forgot to add / I cry discrimination! You are discriminating against those of us who work – why is it that only we pay for a shopping bag while the next guy on line doesn’t have to. It should be all or nothing – if it’s so important deduct it from his snap account, same as deducting it from my food budget each month!

  7. Just keep voting in the TAX and SPEND Democrats. Living under the thumb of the Democrats is understanding that THEY know better than you and will give you what you need to survive (not prosper).
    They feel good spending your money.

    Time for a change in Trenton!

  8. What about going back to using paper grocery bags? Are those also dangerous to the environment? Or having grocery orders packed in boxes! You can’t expect someone who did her $200 weekly grocery shopping for her family to start fumbling around for reusable bags! Maybe this law should only apply to people who are buying products under $5.00.

  9. These people have to do something in trenton for us the people let’s see last year they raised the gas tax,, now they are proposing a shopping bag tax…time for them to get some real jobs and know what we the hard working people are going through to make ends meet.

  10. Once again those on government assistance are exempt. Surely because they can’t afford the 5 cents per bag….. Ever try to compare the contents of a SNAP user shopping cart to the cart of a paying customer.

  11. I don’t approve of taxing bags. It won’t help the environment. But, some stores use way too many bags, by not filling them enough. That’s what I call wasteful. I have to shlep home more bags than I need half filled.But, If I get 20 bags when I do a weekly shopping and I have to pay $1.00 more for my groceries, it won’t break the bank.

  12. What this article did not tell you was how much of the 5 cents was going into the state’s general fund. Yes, some of the money IS going there. And there is no rule saying the state cannot claim all of the money for it’s own use, like pay raises for elected officials, bonuses for some people, etc.

    • YES! its over 5 cents.
      This is where it starts, give it a year and it will become 10 cents because the money will be going in to the General fund and the General fund NEVER has enough money.

      Stop the madness, replace the Trenton Politicians.

  13. This is really just another tax on the already bleeding middle class. It has nothing to do with the environment and litter. This is obvious from the fact that people paying on WIC and Foodstamps are exempt. Further, stores of less than 2,000 sq feet are exempt. it’s those store (most usually frequented and found in lower economic locals) whose bag are getting thrown on the ground after that soda or case of beer is immediately consumed. # 16’s suggestion actually makes sense but that’s obviously not the point of the tax.

    Also, where exactly is this money airmarked to go? free college tuition so all young people can be brain-washed on tax-payer dollars?

  14. With regard to the Senate, can anyone provide a list of those senators that are wavering so we calm start a calling campaign.
    In new York they stopped this NONSENSE.

  15. I fully agree with this law. Although i am not a proffesor, i do not think that its going to affect anybody to much, its only making people more aware of the problam. The one thing i would do differently is not to exempt snap recipients, i would rather distribute three reusable bags to every family with minimum deposit, the likes of the garbage cans.

  16. Well mordie i will be more then happy to come up with a way you should be able to afford 5 strong reusable bags to last you for many years to come. But you’re going to have to help me come up with a plan how to pay for the items in the bag

  17. The environment and wildlife are seriously threatened by the massive buildup of plastic bags. The proceeds will go to lead abatement, a great cause that will protect children. Sounds like a win-win. Plus there are economical options such as reusable bags, paper bags and boxes to avoid the tax. While $0.05 per bag may not seem reasonable, it is an effective deterrent without outlawing plastic bags all together.

  18. Democrat: To do something that accomplishes nothing and makes everyone unhappy along the way and to hurt people while they -or you want them to- naively believe that you are helping them and care for their greater good.

  19. It will start with 5 cents and gradually go up more and more like water. It was minimal then they put up metersand now paying thousands. Just wait and see.

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