TRENTON (CBSNewYork) – A bill to ban plastic bags and more in the Garden State would be the strictest in the country if passed.
A shopping cart of groceries in plastic bags is a pretty typical weekly routine for most, but that habit may have to change.
“The change in the lifestyle is not that hard. First of all, it’s going to save everybody over the long run,” said St. Sen. Bob Smith. “And the benefits to your health, and to your kids, and your grandchildren. You really want to get plastics out of the environment.”
The bill goes a step further and bans paper bags at all but the smallest grocery stores. Also exempt are smaller, one use bags for fruit and vegetables within larger stores.
That encourages people to bring their own reusable bags.
“When I was growing up, we didn’t have plastic bags in supermarkets. We did just fine,” St. Sen. Linda Greenstein said. “We’re going for a little bit of a lifestyle change but one I believe will not be hard for people to adjust to.”
Local shoppers told CBS2’s Meg Baker they have mixed feelings.
“I feel very strongly about them banning plastic. I am so against it and I get so mad at myself if I forget my bags,” said Allentown resident Vickie Gringas.
“I like the plastic bags,” said Columbus resident Kimberly Dortch. “I definitely recycle them and use them many, many different ways.”
The bill also bans Styrofoam. Those representing that industry as well as the food industry oppose the plan, saying it will hurt small businesses like takeout food restaurants and schools the most.
“We have a study that shows if you take away polystyrene food products, the clamshell containers, schools in New Jersey would have to come up with another $5-6 million more in their budgets just to pay for additional materials,” said Dennis Hart, the executive director with the Chemistry Council.
But those pushing the ban say we all need to focus on the environment, and the future and find alternatives to plastic.
The bill still has a ways to go. It hasn’t been brought up in the Assembly, and would need to pass in the Senate before reaching Gov. Phil Murphy‘s desk.
Plastic straws would not be banned, but you would need to request a straw if needed. This was a special provision requested by the disability community.