TRENTON, N.J. – In less than five weeks, New Jersey’s strictest-in-the-nation single-use bag ban goes into effect. However, under Assemblywoman Aura Dunn’s bill that was signed into law on Friday, food banks will be granted a six-month plastic bag extension and an exemption from the portion of the law prohibiting paper bags.
“This law prevents the plastic and paper bag ban from having unintended, but negative impacts on those who are struggling. It offers a sustainable solution that supports these nonprofits and the communities they serve,” Dunn (R-Morris) said.
The legislation (A2065) also appropriates $600,000 to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to pay for 500,000 reusable bags that will be proportionally distributed to food banks and pantries like soup kitchens throughout the state. Food banks will have until November to stop using single-use plastic carryout bags.
Joe Nametko, the mayor of Netcong, says the town’s community food bank provides meals and supplies to 150 to 175 people on average each week since the second week of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“During weeks leading up to holidays, the number of meals we provide in the way of pre-bagged food items, goes much higher,” Nametko said. “Currently, residents who can afford to purchase their own food are kind enough to bring their used plastic bags to our food bank where they are inspected and eventually re-used. As a member of the Morris County Solid Waste Advisory, I do my best to ensure packaging that finds its way to our food bank is recycled, reused or repurposed. This new law gives us the gift of time to adopt new ways to ensure our operations are not only meeting the law, but our community needs.”