NJ Plastic Bag Ban Begins May; paper bags are also prohibited

NEW JERSEY (PIX11) – A majority of New Jersyans know the ban on single-use plastic will go into effect next month, but few were also aware of the ban on paper, according to a Monmouth University poll. published on Tuesday.

Seventy percent of Garden State residents were aware of the change coming to their local supermarkets starting May 4, but only 28 percent of the public knew they couldn’t use paper bags for their groceries, according to the survey.

“A lot of people who think they’ll just put their groceries in paper instead of plastic at checkout next month will be surprised,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Independent Survey Institute, in a press release.

But Jersey shoppers support the ban and seem unfazed by the downsides. According to the survey, among current users of plastic and paper bags, just over half say it will be easy or fairly easy to adapt to bringing in their own bags.

“Most New Jerseyans support efforts to reduce plastic use, the question is whether they will be happy with the change once it takes effect,” Murray said.

Over 60% are in favor of banning single-use, however, over 40% believe that stores should continue to distribute single-use plastic bags free of charge.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection said stores can only provide or sell reusable bags, which are made of a washable material and have handles.

The survey shows that 38% say they already bring their own bags when shopping.

However, officials said Jersey residents at the bottom of the income scale – those earning less than $50,000 a year – would likely be affected by the ban. They cite transportation as a challenge. While a majority agree with banning plastic, more than 50% of this group would prefer stores to still be able to distribute them for free, according to the survey.

“The upcoming ban is likely to produce the most confusion and problems for those on very tight incomes, especially those with limited transportation options,” Murray said.

Ethel J. Montes