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New Jersey’s Plastic Ban Did Not Work, Report Shows

  New Jersey’s ban on plastic bags has been not only inconvenient for the public but bad for the environment. Back in 2020, New Jersey passe...

 New Jersey’s ban on plastic bags has been not only inconvenient for the public but bad for the environment.

Back in 2020, New Jersey passed a law banning single-use plastic and paper bags in all stores and food service businesses. That law went into effect in May, 2022.

Since the ban took effect, though, it looks like the state’s consumption of plastic for bags spiked to three times as much, according to a report from Freedonia Custom Research that was commissioned by the American Recyclable Plastic Bag Alliance.

The total number of plastic bags did go down, falling by 60%  to 894 million bags, but the problem was the alternatives ended up having a much larger carbon footprint.

Most of New Jersey’s stores switched to reusable shopping bags, the kind often sold in supermarkets. These bags are made with non-woven polypropylene, which uses more than 15 times more plastic, and they are often not recycled.

As a result, these bags caused greenhouse gas emissions to rise 500% compared to the old bags in 2015, according to the report.

On top of this, people tend not to reuse the new reusable bags as much as intended — on average they are only used about two or three times before being thrown away.

One factor contributing to this is the rise of grocery pickup and delivery services, which usually require new alternative bags for every grocery haul.

Overall, the ban failed to accomplish its goal.

“The outcome of the ban, revealed by market research, interviews, and comprehensive studies, unveils a complicated landscape as bag purchasing behavior continues to evolve,” the report says.

Back in November, 2020 when he signed the bag ban bill, Governor Phil Murphy (D) touted the plastic bag ban as a “solution” to climate change.

“Plastic bags are one of the most problematic forms of waste, contributing to millions of discarded bags that find their way into our landfills, rivers, and oceans annually,” Murphy, a Democrat, said during a signing ceremony for the bill.

“With the historic signing of this bill today, we are directly addressing the issue of plastic pollution, offering solutions that will combat climate change and protect our environment for generations to come,” Murphy said.

New Jersey’s ban also prohibited Styrofoam products like cups, plates, takeout cartons, and other food containers.

At least 11 other states have bans on plastic grocery bags as well — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

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