NEW JERSEY – After one year of its implementation, New Jersey’s “Get Past Plastic” law has successfully eliminated “billions” of single-use plastic items, state officials said.
“Today marks a historic landmark for plastic reduction in New Jersey. Our comprehensive plastic reduction law has been able to tackle the menace of plastic pollution in New Jersey. In the past year, we’ve seen a major reduction in single use plastics. This is an incredible step towards protecting our environment and our public health,” said Anjuli Ramos-Busot, New Jersey Director of the Sierra Club. “Today we celebrate an important one-year anniversary for New Jersey’s plastic law, however we have a lot more work to do when it comes to enforcement, reductions in plastic straws, a strong EPR bill and more.”
Environmental groups praised officials that sponsored, supported, and eventually passed and signed the law. The law bans all plastic bags from stores, paper bags from large stores, foam plastic such as Styrofoam, food containers, and limits plastic straws upon customer request.
“We are grateful to the New Jersey Legislature and Governor Murphy for making national history with the law’s passage and we are proud of all New Jerseyans and visitors for transitioning away from single-use plastic bags, foam, and straws,” said Cindy Zipf, Executive Director of Clean Ocean Action. “We have made a huge dent in single use plastic use and abuse with the elimination of billions of bags, foam items, and straws. However, there is still more work to do, especially with implementing plastic straw limitations and compliance. This law, and New Jersey’s response, proves that we can live without single-use plastics.”
In the first five months of the law’s enactment, New Jersey Food Council estimated that 3.44 billion plastic bags and 68 million paper bags were eliminated from the waste stream.
“This law has been an unqualified success in terms of bags and foamed plastic, and our oceans, waves, and beaches are cleaner for it,” said Don Greenberg, Legislative Coordinator for the
Jersey Shore Chapter of Surfrider Foundation. “But the straw part of the law needs more enforcement because no drink served in NJ is supposed to have a straw unless the customer asks for it.”
In Clean Ocean Action’s 2022 Beach Sweeps Report, officials noted that items washed up on our shores like bags, foam items, and straws declined in 2022.
According to officials, plastic shopping bags decreased 37% and were not in the top 12 most collected items. Foam plastic takeout containers decreased by 29% from spring to fall 2022; an overall decrease by 38% from 2021-2022. Additionally, plastic straws/stirrers decreased 39% from 2021.
“Currently, far too much plastic waste ends up being burned at incinerators in NJ’s Environmental Justice communities. This law has added a layer of policy support to reduce the amount of plastics going into these incinerators’ waste-stream. This directly reduces the amounts of toxic pollutants emitted from the burning of plastics – pollutants that have and continue to severely impact the health of people of color and low-income communities. As the crisis of waste and plastic pollution continues to knock on our communities’ front doors, we will continue to organize and advocate for strong policies to protect our communities and the environment,” said Chris Tandazo, Statewide EJ Organizer, New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance.
The groups are working to support several key bills to help further reduce plastic waste, including an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) bill, a bottle bill, “Skip the Stuff,” and more.
For more information on the law, go to dep.nj.gov/get-past-plastic.