What to Know
- The first step in New Jersey's plastic ban takes effect Thursday, when single-use plastic straws will no longer be provided in restaurants or other food businesses unless customers directly ask for them
- The next major step begins May 4 and targets plastic and paper single-use bags as well as disposable food containers and cups made out of polystyrene foam.
- Noncompliance comes with a warning for a first offense and fines up to $1,000 per day for the second offense. Third and subsequent violations carry penalties up to $5,000 a day
Like to down your restaurant drink with a colorful plastic straw? Starting Thursday, you won't get one in New Jersey unless you specifically ask for it.
It's the first step in the Garden State's incremental plastic ban, which the governor signed into law a year ago. Foodservice businesses are allowed to keep a supply of single-use plastic straws on hand -- and stores can keep selling packages of them or pre-packaged items like juice boxes that include them going forward.
Gov. Phil Murphy signed the bill into law last November, a measure his office at the time described as the strongest such ban in the country. More intense components of the law go into effect in the spring, targeting plastic and paper single-use bags as well as disposable food containers and cups made out of polystyrene foam.
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Starting May 4, stores, including retail, grocery, pharmacy and food businesses, are banned from selling single-use plastic carryout bags or giving them to customers. Grocery stores larger than 2,500 square feet can't sell single-use paper carryout bags and instead may provide or sell only reusable carryout bags.
To be considered a reusable carryout bag, the bag must be made of polypropylene fabric, PET nonwoven fabric, nylon, cloth, hemp product, or other washable fabric; and have stitched handles. It must also be designed for multiple uses.
Also beginning May 4, restaurants can't sell or offer any polystyrene foam food service products or sell or provide any food served in such a product.
The following products will be exempt for an additional two years after May 2022:
- 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 foodservice product; and
- Any other polystyrene foam foodservice product as determined necessary by Department of Environmental Protection.
Noncompliance comes with a warning for a first offense and fines up to $1,000 per day for the second offense. Third and subsequent violations carry penalties up to $5,000 a day. Learn more about the plastic law here.