The bill for the new law was approved by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee on December 17. It heads to the full Senate for a vote that could happen February 4. To go into effect, the bill would need to be passed by both houses of the Legislature and signed by the governor.
If the bill becomes New Jersey law, convenience stores would be required to offer recyclable or compostable paper, or plastic bags for a nickel. Four cents of the nickel charged would go toward cleaning up Barnegat Bay, while the other penny would be kept by store owners. The bill would also allow stores to offer a 5-cent rebate to customers who use reusable bags.
Not everyone is thrilled about the possible new law, as made clear in a recent poll by The Star-Ledger/NJ.com.
New Jersey’s move follows similar actions around the country. In 2008, Westport, Conn. became one of the first cities on the East Coast to implement a plastic bag ban for retailers. Some 60 other US cities have either banned plastic bags or levied fees on non-reusable bags. In 2012 alone, 46 plastic bag bans were enacted across the country, more than doubling the bans already on the books.
While there are no true statewide bans, each of Hawaii’s counties have implemented similar laws, effectively creating a statewide ban.