Single Use Plastic Bags

Starting May 4, 2022, New Jersey retail stores, grocery stores and food service businesses may not provide or sell single-use plastic carryout bags and polystyrene foam food service products. Single-use paper carryout bags are allowed to be provided or sold, except by grocery stores equal to or larger than 2500 square feet, which may only provide or sell reusable carryout bags. After November 4, 2021, plastic straws may be provided only upon the request of the customer.

 

 

Reducing Single-use Plastics for Residents & Businesses

 

  • Beginning May 4, 2022, the law prohibits all Stores (including retail), Food Service Businesses, and Grocery Stores from selling to, or providing their customers with, single-use plastic carryout bags. In addition, Grocery Stores larger than 2,500 square feet may not provide or sell single-use paper carryout bags, and instead may provide or sell only reusable carryout bags.
  • Definitions:
    • “Store” is any grocery store, convenience store, liquor store, pharmacy, drug store, or other retail establishment.
    • “Food Service Business” sells or provides food for consumption on or off the premises, including, but not limited to, establishments such as a restaurant, café, delicatessen, coffee shop, convenience store, grocery store, vending truck or cart, food truck, movie theater, or business or institutional cafeteria, including those operated by a government entity.
    • “Grocery Store” is a self-service retail establishment that occupies at least 2,500 square feet, and that sells household foodstuffs for off-site consumption, including but not limited to fresh produce, meat, poultry, fish, deli products, dairy products, canned foods, dry foods, beverages, baked foods, or prepared foods.
  • A “reusable carryout bag” must be:
    1. Made of polypropylene fabric, PET nonwoven fabric, nylon, cloth, hemp product, or other washable fabric; and
    2. Have stitched handles;
    3. Be designed and manufactured for multiple reuses.
  • Beginning May 4, 2022, the law prohibits all persons and food service businesses from selling/offering for sale any polystyrene foam food service product and prohibits all food service businesses from selling/providing any food served in a polystyrene foam food service product.
  • The following products are exempt until May 4, 2024 unless otherwise extended by the DEP:
    • 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.
    • Any other polystyrene foam food service product as determined necessary by the DEP.
  • A “polystyrene foam food service product” is defined as a product made, in whole or in part, of polystyrene foam that is used for selling or providing a food or beverage, and includes but is not limited to a food container, plate, hot or cold beverage cup, meat or vegetable tray, cutlery, or egg carton.
  • Further exemptions and requests for waivers for polystyrene foam food service products may be submitted to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on forms to be prescribed.
  • Contact for the NJDEP Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste is singleuseplastics@dep.nj.gov or 609-984-4250
  • Beginning on November 4, 2021, food service businesses shall only provide a single-use plastic straw to a customer upon request by the customer. Food service businesses are required to keep an adequate supply of single-use plastic straws. Stores may continue to sell packages of single-use plastic straws and provide/sell a beverage pre-packaged by the manufacturer with a single-use plastic straw, i.e., juice boxes
  • A person or entity that violates the law will be warned for a first offense, may be fined up to $1,000 per day for the second offense, and may be fined up to $5,000 per day for the third and subsequent violations. Violations of a continuing nature constitute an additional, separate, and distinct offense for each day that is deemed a violation.
  • The DEP, municipalities and any entity certified pursuant to the “County Environmental Health Act” are authorized to enforce the law.

Timeline for Implementation of the Law

List of Establishments and Applicable Provisions

Full Legislation – P.I. 2020 C. 117

Waiver Application for Polystyrene Foam Food Service Products

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

1. Questions About Stores and Types of Reusable Bags

(1.1) When are businesses required to stop providing customers with single-use carryout bags?

All stores and Food Service Businesses shall no longer provide customers with single-use plastic bags beginning May 4, 2022. Grocery Stores shall no longer provide customers with single-use plastic or single-use paper bags beginning May 4, 2022.

(1.2) What are the basic requirements of New Jersey’s Single-Use Plastics Reduction Law?

The Single-Use Plastics Reduction Law has many requirements and some exceptions. In general, the law states that all Stores, Food Service Businesses, and Grocery Stores shall not sell or provide single-use plastic carryout bags. In addition, Grocery Stores shall not sell or provide single-use paper carryout bags.

(1.3) What types of stores are subject to the Single-Use Plastics Reduction Law?

The single-use plastic carryout bags provision of the Single-Use Plastics Reduction Law applies to a “Store,” “Food Service Business,” & “Grocery Store.”

The single-use paper carryout bag provision of the Single-Use Plastics Reduction Law applies to a “Grocery Store.” As defined by the law:
• A “Store” is any grocery store, convenience store, liquor store, pharmacy, drug store or other retail establishment.
• A “Food Service Business” sells or provides food for consumption on or off the premises, including establishments such as a restaurant, café, delicatessen, coffee shop, convenience store, grocery store, vending truck or cart, food truck, movie theater, or business or institutional cafeteria, including those operated by a government entity.
• A “Grocery Store” is a self-service retail establishment that occupies at least 2,500 square feet and sells household foodstuffs for off-site consumption.

It does not include an establishment that handles only pre-packaged food that does not require time or temperature controls for food safety.

If you are uncertain whether a particular business meets the statutory definition of “Store,” “Food Service Business,” or “Grocery Store” after reviewing P.L. 2020, Chapter 117, we recommend that you consult the DEP’s List of Establishments and Applicable Provisions.

(1.4) What kind of bags are subject to the Single-Use Plastics Reduction Law?

• A “single-use plastic carryout bag” is a carryout bag made of plastic that is not a reusable carry out bag as defined by the law. These are prohibited from being provided in all retail establishments. There are some exceptions as noted in (1.5) below.

• A “single-use paper carryout bag” is a carryout bag made of paper that is not a reusable carryout bag as defined by the law. These are only prohibited from being provided in Grocery Stores.

There is no minimum thickness for a bag to be considered reusable. No single-use plastic carryout bags, regardless of the thickness of the plastic, are allowed to be provided or sold.

(1.5) What is a reusable carryout bag?

A reusable carryout bag is a bag that:
1. is made of polypropylene fabric, PET nonwoven fabric, nylon, cloth, hemp product, or other washable fabric; and 2. has stitched handles; and
3. is designed and manufactured for multiple reuses.

(1.6) Do all reusable carryout bags need to be washable?

Yes, all reusable carryout bags must be capable of withstanding multiple washes, either by hand or machine, while maintaining usefulness and integrity.

(1.7) Are handles required on a reusable carryout bag?

Yes, every reusable carryout bag must have handles to be considered reusable. These handles can be stitched in a traditional manner or be by ultrasonic stitching.
Adhesive handles do not meet the stitched handle requirement.

(1.8) Do glued handles qualify as stitched handles?

No, bags with handles attached by adhesives do not qualify as reusable carryout bags.

(1.9) Do T-shirt bags qualify as a reusable carryout bag?

All bags that meet the definition of a reusable carryout bag are permitted for use.
Bags whereby the handles are part of the bag but are stitched together do meet the requirement for stitched handles.

(1.10) How many uses qualify as multiple reuses?

For the purposes of this law, multiple reuse means capable of withstanding 125 washes while maintaining usefulness and integrity.

(1.11) Are any bags exempted from the requirements of Single-Use Plastics Reduction Law?

Yes. There is a set list of uses for plastic bags that are exempted from this law and are therefore allowed:
• a bag used solely to contain or wrap uncooked meat, fish, or poultry,
• a bag used solely to package loose items such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, coffee, grains, baked goods, candy, greeting cards, owers, bulk food, or small hardware items,
• a bag used solely to contain live animals, such as fish or insects sold in a pet store,
• a bag used solely to contain food sliced or prepared to order, including soup or hot food,
• a laundry, dry cleaning, or garment bag,
• a bag provided by a pharmacy to carry prescription drugs,
• a bag for newspapers,
• or any similar bag, as determined by the Department pursuant to rule, regulation, or guidance.

(1.12) Is there an opportunity for additional bag types to be added to the list of exceptions?

Yes, the DEP has the ability (by rule, regulation, or guidance) to determine additional exceptions to the definition of a reusable carryout bag. Please contact the DEP for further information.

(1.13) Do reusable carryout bags need to be made with a minimum recycled content to be allowable?

There is no minimum recycled requirement for reusable carryout bags (or any included product) in this law. However, the use of recycled content in all allowable bags is encouraged.

(1.14) Do reusable carryout bags need to be recyclable?

No, there is no requirement for reusable carryout bags to be recyclable at this time, however as technology and markets progress for different products and materials, it is encouraged.

(1.15) Can a pharmacy provide single-use plastic or paper bags?

A pharmacy qualies as a Store and shall not provide or sell single-use plastic carryout bags to customers, unless the plastic carryout bag is used to carry solely prescription drugs (see Section 1.12 above). Pharmacies are permitted to sell or provide single-use paper carryout bags.

(1.16) Can establishments require their customers to purchase reusable carryout bags?

This law does not require that customers purchase reusable carryout bags.

(1.17) Can the public use their own bags at the store that don’t qualify as reusable carryout bags under the law?

Yes, the definition for reusable carryout bag only applies to the bags that stores and businesses can provide or sell to customers.

(1.18) Can I still buy packages of paper bags and lawn bags at the store?

Yes, the law allows for the sale of packages of paper bags and lawn bags from all Stores and Grocery Stores.

(1.19) Are garbage bags included as part of the Single-Use Plastics Reduction Law?

No, only single-use carryout bags are included in the portion of the law. Trash bags continue to be allowable to purchase in stores.

 

2. Questions about Polystyrene Foam Food Service Products

(2.1) When will polystyrene foam food service products no longer be permitted for sale or provision in NJ?

Food Service Businesses shall no longer provide food to customers in polystyrene foam food service products beginning May 4, 2022.
Additionally, Stores shall no longer provide or offer for sale polystyrene foam food service products to customers beginning May 4, 2022.

(2.2) What are the basic requirements of the polystyrene foam food service products provision of the Single-Use Plastics Reduction Law?

The polystyrene foam food service products provision states no person shall sell or offer for sale in the State any polystyrene foam food service product.
Additionally, the Law states that no Food Service Business shall provide or sell any food in a polystyrene foam food service product.

(2.3) What polystyrene foam food service products are exempt through May 4, 2024?

• Disposable, long-handled polystyrene soda spoons when required/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, and
• Any food product pre-packaged by the manufacturer with a polystyrene foam food service product.

These exemptions will be in effect for two years from the effective date of the Law, or until May 4, 2024. The law also allows the DEP to extend any of the polystyrene foam food service product exemptions referenced above for additional periods not to exceed one year. These extensions will only be considered upon receipt of written documentation that there is no cost-effective and readily available alternative for the item.

Any extended exemptions will automatically expire after one year, but the DEP may extend any such exemptions beyond one year upon receipt of further documentation as outlined in the paragraph above.

(2.4) Is there a waiver option for polystyrene foam food service products?

A waiver for the use of a specific polystyrene foam food service product may be submitted by any Food Service Business to the Department. If a waiver is granted, the specific product approved in the waiver may be used by the Food Service Business for a period not to exceed one year.

A waiver application must prove that a Food Service Business meets one of the following situations:
• there is no feasible and commercially available alternative for a specific polystyrene foam food service product; or
• the person or business has less than $500,000 in gross annual income and there is no reasonably affordable, commercially- available alternative to the polystyrene foam food service product.

These waivers must be approved in writing by the DEP. Waivers may be extended by the DEP for periods not to exceed one year upon written documentation submitted on the forms prescribed by the DEP.
Waivers are different than exemptions. Exemptions are specific to the list in Section 2.3 above. Waivers can be requested for any polystyrene foam food service product or food in a polystyrene foam food service product if the criteria outlined in this section apply.

 

 3. Questions about Plastic Straws By-Request-Only

(3.1) When does the “by request only” rule for single-use plastic straws become effective?

The “by request only” provision for single-use plastic straws in the Single-Use Plastics Reduction Law becomes effective November 4, 2021.

(3.2) What are the basic requirements of New Jersey’s limitation on the distribution of plastic straws “by request only”?

Food Service Businesses shall only provide a single-use plastic straw to a customer only upon the request of the customer.
Nothing prohibits a store from selling packages of single-use plastic straws to customers or providing or selling a beverage pre- packaged by a manufacturer with a single-use plastic straw.

(3.3) Does the “by request only” rule for single-use plastic straws apply to drive-thru establishments and self-service areas?

Yes, the “by request only” provision of the law for single-use plastic straws applies to all instances where a customer has the option of using or not using a single-use plastic straw.
Note: All Food Service Businesses shall maintain an adequate supply of single-use plastic straws to provide at the request of customers.

 

4. Questions about Enforcement

 (4.1) Who enforces the law?

The Department of Environmental Protection, municipalities, and any entity certied by the “County Environmental Health Act” have the authority to enforce the single-use plastic and paper carryout bag and polystyrene foam food service product provisions of the law.
The Department of Health enforces the plastic straw provision of the law.

(4.2) What are the penalties for violation of the law?

A person or entity that violates the law shall be subject to a warning for the rst offense, may be ned up to $1,000 per day for the second offense, and up to $5,000 per day for the third and subsequent offense. Violations of a continuing nature constitute an additional, separate, and distinct offense for each day that is deemed a violation.

(4.3) What if my city or county has its own ordinance regarding single-use bags, polystyrene foam or single-use plastic straws?

The Single-Use Plastics Reduction Law supersedes and pre-empts all municipal and county rules, regulations, codes, or ordinances concerning the regulation or prohibition of single-use plastic or paper carryout bags, polystyrene foam food service products and single-use plastic straws. Every store or entity in New Jersey that is subject to the statewide law must comply with its requirements, regardless of where the store is located.

 

 

5. Resources and Contact Information

(5.1) Where can businesses find information on vendors that sell Reusable Carryout Bags and other environmentally-sound alternatives to the items that are no longer permitted by the Single-Use Plastics Reduction Law?

Please visit the New Jersey Business Action Center’s (NJBAC) Vendor List at https://business.nj.gov/Vendors.

 

(5.2) Where can a business find assistance?

The NJBAC assists businesses and will post updates to the law on the https://business.nj.gov website as they become available. There is a Live Chat “Ask Our NJ Business Experts” feature on this website that elds business questions. The Live Chat is available Monday-Friday, from 8 am to 5 pm.

(5.3) Is there nancial assistance available for individual New Jersey residents who cannot afford to buy reusable bags?

The law provides funding to the New Jersey Clean Communities Council to develop a statewide education and outreach program, and to implement the limited distribution of free reusable carryout bags in New Jersey. For more information on these programs, visit: https://www.njclean.org or https://www.bagupnj.com/.