In addition to joining New York in some type of weird social experiment to see how high taxes can get before you drive all of your state's citizens elsewhere, New Jersey has also decided to now ban both paper and plastic bags in the state.
We guess the crippling effect of Covid 19 on local businesses wasn't enough - but now also seems like a great time to weigh them down with further regulations and higher costs.
The state's assembly and Senate passed a bill Thursday that bans LDPE plastic film bags, like the kind you get at the grocery store. It also bans the alternative - paper bags - at markets that are over 2,500 sq. feet in an attempt to get shoppers to bring their own bags. The same bill also bans polystyrene clamshell food containers and makes plastic straws only available "upon request" at restaurants, according to NorthJersey.com.
We're guessing there's going to be a lot of "requests".
The bill passed mostly on party lines after a similar bill introduced in early March had to be amended slightly. Opponents to the bill claim the obvious: that it will hurt all types of businesses that are going to be forced to find costly alternatives.
Despite the fact that environmental groups were mostly pushing for a ban on plastic bags, the state needed to ban paper bags as well to get "an influential trade group for supermarkets to support the bill" - due to the fact that supplying paper bags would cost significantly more.
The ban would take place 18 months after it is signed and any business violating the bill would get a warning upon first offense, followed by a $1,000 fine - and then a $5,000 fine for a third or subsequent offense.
Linda Doherty, president of the New Jersey Food Council, said: "The ban on paper bags is critically important to the success of this legislation. Without a ban, consumers will simply move to paper single-use bags and we will not address the underlying goal of reducing our reliance on single-use products."
Abigail Sztein, director of government affairs for the paper association, referred to the bill as "a solution in search of a problem." Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi argued the bill would hurt NJ paper manufacturers as collateral damage. She called it "bad timing" and "bad policy".
EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck called the bill "the single most comprehensive plastics and paper reduction bill in the nation."
Cindy Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action, said: "Now, we can all look forward to picking up less trash on our beaches. There will be less plastics in the ocean to cause harm and death to marine life."
Many municipalities, specifically those near the Jersey Shore, had already banned plastics.