Report Shows NJ Plastic Ban Did Not Work

( – In 2020, New Jersey implemented a ban on single-use plastic and paper shopping bags to combat plastic pollution in the state. However, a recent study has uncovered that there has been a threefold increase in plastic consumption at New Jersey stores since the enactment of this anti-plastics law.

During the bill signing in November 2020, Governor Phil Murphy emphasized the potential environmental gains of the bag ban, saying that it helps fight against climate change and safeguards the state’s environment from plastic pollution. Yet, four years later, emerging evidence challenges the effectiveness of the bag ban, suggesting not only a failure to stop plastic usage but a substantial overall increase.

The Freedonia Group conducted a study, commissioned by the American Plastic Bag Alliance, revealing a notable surge in the utilization of plastic shopping bags in New Jersey – escalating from over 50 million pounds from before the bag ban to 150 million pounds in May 2022. The study also showed a paradox in the ban’s eco-friendly intentions, as the mandated reusable bags are used only two to three times on average.

The reusable bags in New Jersey contain 15 to 20 times more plastic than the very bags the state aimed to get rid of. The reusable bags are only really utilized merely two to three times after being bought, contributing substantially to the overall surge in plastic usage compared to the pre-ban era.

Beyond its environmental effects, the study shows the unfortunate and unintended repercussions of the bag ban. Retailers, seizing the opportunity presented by the ban, have strategically increased the prices of their own reusable bags. The study estimated the profit for these retailers, with a single franchise having 50 stores in the state, being able to make over $40 million solely from reusable bag fees.

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