A few New Jersey towns have adopted the ban on the use of plastic bags in stores. Manahawkin stores, like many others, have switched back paper bags and encourage the use of reusable bags. Currently, about 50 New Jersey towns/cities have similar policies. However now, a bill has been advanced that would not only ban plastic bags, but also paper bags, single-use plastic, and polystyrene containers throughout the entire state.

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Last year Governor Phil Murphy vetoed a law that would have banned the use of plastic bags claiming that it was not tough enough. With the new bill including paper bags, other single-use plastics, and polystyrene containers (foam take-out containers) the end result may be different.

The new bill is aimed at improving not only the environment, but also public health. Not only to animals ingest plastic, but humans also ingest microplastics. The director of Environment New Jersey, Doug O'Malley, "There’s a reason why Jersey Shore towns move forward to ban plastic bags and polystyrene first. When you do [beach] cleanups, they find not just a couple hundred, not just a thousand — 25,000 pieces of polystyrene on their beaches."

On Thursday, December 5th, the bill was advanced by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. The bill would implement a statewide ban on single-use plastics like bags, as well as paper bags within one year of its passing. Straws would not be completely banned, customers can receive one if requested. In two years the ban on polystyrene containers would be implemented.

Critics not only feel that the bill is only necessary, but also could negatively affect businesses. With continuing advances in recycling, technology critics to the bill believe it is moot. According to WHYY, "Others decried one aspect of the new proposal that would force food retailers like grocery stores to give away reusable bags for free for the first two months of the ban." The fear is that some businesses, especially small and local businesses, will not be able to recoup those costs.

Sources: WHYY