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New Jersey is getting past: Single-Use Carryout Bags, Polystyrene Foam Food Service Products, and Plastic Straws (P.L. 2020, c. 117 )

Starting May 4, 2022, New Jersey retail stores, grocery stores and food service businesses may not provide or sell single-use plastic carryout bags and polystyrene foam food service products. Single-use paper carryout bags are allowed to be provided or sold, except by grocery stores equal to or larger than 2500 square feet, which may only provide or sell reusable carryout bags. After November 4, 2021, plastic straws may be provided only upon the request of the customer.


Comments or questions on Get Past Plastic

singleuseplastics@dep.nj.gov
(609) 984-4250


To report violations of the single-use plastic, single-use paper or
polystyrene foam food service product elements of the Law, contact:


Get Past Plastic by Location

New Norms
Customers bring reusable bags to the store
Store sells reusable bags
What is Not Permitted
Store cannot provide single-use plastic or paper bags*
This includes:
  • At checkout
  • Curbside pickup
  • Home delivery
Exceptions
Bags for loose items are exempt e.g., produce, greeting cards, flowers etc.
Polystyrene foam for raw and deli sliced meats, including poultry and fish trays are exempt**
Polystyrene foam for grocery items pre-packed by a manufacturer are exempt** e.g., instant ramen noodles
New Norms
Restaurants may provide single-use paper bags
Food served or delivered in plastic, paper, or aluminum containers
Customers bring a reusable bag
Restaurants only provide plastic straws when requested
What is Not Permitted
Restaurant cannot provide single-use plastic bags*
Restaurant cannot serve or deliver food in polystyrene foam
Exceptions
Paper straws are exempt and can be given without a request
Polystyrene foam portion cups of two ounces or less, if used for hot foods or foods requiring lids are exempt**
Polystyrene foam disposable, long-handled soda spoons when required and used for thick drinks are exempt**
New Norms
Convenience Stores may provide single-use paper bags
Customers bring reusable bags
What is Not Permitted
Store cannot provide single-use plastic bags*
Exceptions
Exceptions listed above for grocery store and restaurant apply
New Norms
Pharmacy may provide single-use paper bags
Customers bring a reusable bag
What is Not Permitted
Pharmacy cannot provide single-use plastic bags*
Exceptions
Plastic bags for prescriptions are exempt
New Norms
Retail Stores may provide single-use paper bags
Customers bring reusable bags
What is Not Permitted
Store cannot provide single-use plastic bags*
Exceptions
 
New Norms
NJ residents can re-use single use plastic bags at home or in-store
NJ residents can buy and use paper lunch bags
What is Not Permitted
NJ residents can no longer purchase polystyrene foam plates, cups or utensils
Exceptions
Plastic utensils or plastic or paper plates or cups are exempt

* Single-use bag restriction goes into effect May 4, 2022.
** Polystyrene foam exemptions effective until May 4, 2024, unless otherwise extended by the DEP


Reducing Single-use Plastics for Residents & Businesses

  • Beginning May 4, 2022, the law prohibits all Stores (including retail), Food Service Businesses, and Grocery Stores from selling to, or providing their customers with, single-use plastic carryout bags. In addition, Grocery Stores larger than 2,500 square feet may not provide or sell single-use paper carryout bags, and instead may provide or sell only reusable carryout bags.
  • Definitions:

    • "Store" is any grocery store, convenience store, liquor store, pharmacy, drug store, or other retail establishment.
    • "Food Service Business" sells or provides food for consumption on or off the premises, including, but not limited to, establishments such as a restaurant, café, delicatessen, coffee shop, convenience store, grocery store, vending truck or cart, food truck, movie theater, or business or institutional cafeteria, including those operated by a government entity.
    • "Grocery Store" is a self-service retail establishment that occupies at least 2,500 square feet, and that sells household foodstuffs for off-site consumption, including but not limited to fresh produce, meat, poultry, fish, deli products, dairy products, canned foods, dry foods, beverages, baked foods, or prepared foods.
  • A "reusable carryout bag" must be:

    1. Made of polypropylene fabric, PET nonwoven fabric, nylon, cloth, hemp product, or other washable fabric; and
    2. Have stitched handles;
    3. Be designed and manufactured for multiple reuses.
  • Beginning May 4, 2022, the law prohibits all persons and food service businesses from selling/offering for sale any polystyrene foam food service product and prohibits all food service businesses from selling/providing any food served in a polystyrene foam food service product.
  • The following products are exempt until May 4, 2024 unless otherwise extended by the DEP:

    • Disposable, long-handled polystyrene foam soda spoons when required and used for thick drinks.
    • Portion cups of two ounces or less, if used for hot foods or foods requiring lids.
    • Meat and fish trays for raw or butchered meat, including poultry, or fish that is sold from a refrigerator or similar retail appliance.
    • Any food product pre-packaged by the manufacturer with a polystyrene foam food service product.
    • Any other polystyrene foam food service product as determined necessary by the DEP.
  • A "polystyrene foam food service product" is defined as a product made, in whole or in part, of polystyrene foam that is used for selling or providing a food or beverage, and includes but is not limited to a food container, plate, hot or cold beverage cup, meat or vegetable tray, cutlery, or egg carton.
  • Further exemptions and requests for waivers for polystyrene foam food service products may be submitted to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on forms to be prescribed.
  • Contact for the NJDEP Division of Sustainable Waste Management is singleuseplastics@dep.nj.gov or 609-984-4250
  • Beginning on November 4, 2021, food service businesses shall only provide a single-use plastic straw to a customer upon request by the customer. Food service businesses are required to keep an adequate supply of single-use plastic straws. Stores may continue to sell packages of single-use plastic straws and provide/sell a beverage pre-packaged by the manufacturer with a single-use plastic straw, i.e., juice boxes
  • A person or entity that violates the law will be warned for a first offense, may be fined up to $1,000 per day for the second offense, and may be fined up to $5,000 per day for the third and subsequent violations. Violations of a continuing nature constitute an additional, separate, and distinct offense for each day that is deemed a violation.
  • The DEP, municipalities and any entity certified pursuant to the "County Environmental Health Act" are authorized to enforce the law.

Frequently Asked Questions

All stores and Food Service Businesses shall no longer provide customers with single-use plastic bags beginning May 4, 2022.

Grocery Stores shall no longer provide customers with single-use plastic or single-use paper bags beginning May 4, 2022.

The Single-Use Plastics Reduction Law has many requirements and some exceptions. In general, the law states that all Stores, Food Service Businesses, and Grocery Stores shall not sell or provide single-use plastic carryout bags. In addition, Grocery Stores shall not sell or provide single-use paper carryout bags.

The single-use plastic carryout bags provision of the Single-Use Plastics Reduction Law applies to a "Store," "Food Service Business," & "Grocery Store."

The single-use paper carryout bag provision of the Single-Use Plastics Reduction Law applies to a "Grocery Store."
As defined by the law:

  • A "Store" is any grocery store, convenience store, liquor store, pharmacy, drug store or other retail establishment.
  • A "Food Service Business" sells or provides food for consumption on or off the premises, including establishments such as a restaurant, café, delicatessen, coffee shop, convenience store, grocery store, vending truck or cart, food truck, movie theater, or business or institutional cafeteria, including those operated by a government entity.
  • A "Grocery Store" is a self-service retail establishment that occupies at least 2,500 square feet and sells household foodstuffs for off-site consumption.
    • It does not include an establishment that handles only pre-packaged food that does not require time or temperature controls for food safety.

If you are uncertain whether a particular business meets the statutory definition of "Store," "Food Service Business," or "Grocery Store" after reviewing P.L. 2020, Chapter 117, we recommend that you consult the DEP's List of Establishments and Applicable Provisions .

  • A "single-use plastic carryout bag" is a carryout bag made of plastic that is not a reusable carry out bag as defined by the law. These are prohibited from being provided in all retail establishments. There are some exceptions as noted in (1.5) below.
  • A "single-use paper carryout bag" is a carryout bag made of paper that is not a reusable carryout bag as defined by the law. These are only prohibited from being provided in Grocery Stores.

There is no minimum thickness for a bag to be considered reusable. No single-use plastic carryout bags, regardless of the thickness of the plastic, are allowed to be provided or sold.

A reusable carryout bag is a bag that:

  1. is made of polypropylene fabric, PET nonwoven fabric, nylon, cloth, hemp product, or other washable fabric; and
  2. has stitched handles; and
  3. is designed and manufactured for multiple reuses.

Businesses can find information on vendors that sell Reusable Carryout Bags and other environmentally-sound alternatives to the items that are no longer permitted by the Single-Use Plastics Reduction Law.

Please visit the New Jersey Business Action Center's (NJBAC) Vendor List at https://business.nj.gov/Vendors

Yes, all reusable carryout bags must be capable of withstanding multiple washes, either by hand or machine, while maintaining usefulness and integrity.

Yes, every reusable carryout bag must have handles to be considered reusable. These handles can be stitched in a traditional manner or be by ultrasonic stitching.

Adhesive handles do not meet the stitched handle requirement.

No, bags with handles attached by adhesives do not qualify as reusable carryout bags.

All bags that meet the definition of a reusable carryout bag are permitted for use.

Bags whereby the handles are part of the bag but are stitched together do meet the requirement for stitched handles.

For the purposes of this law, multiple reuse means capable of withstanding 125 washes while maintaining usefulness and integrity.

Yes. There is a set list of uses for plastic bags that are exempted from this law and are therefore allowed:

  • a bag used solely to contain or wrap uncooked meat, fish, or poultry,
  • a bag used solely to package loose items such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, coffee, grains, baked goods, candy, greeting cards, flowers, bulk food, or small hardware items,
  • a bag used solely to contain live animals, such as fish or insects sold in a pet store,
  • a bag used solely to contain food sliced or prepared to order, including soup or hot food,
  • a laundry, dry cleaning, or garment bag,
  • a bag provided by a pharmacy to carry prescription drugs,
  • a bag for newspapers, or
  • any similar bag, as determined by the Department pursuant to rule, regulation, or guidance.

Yes, the DEP has the ability (by rule, regulation, or guidance) to determine additional exceptions to the definition of a reusable carryout bag. Please contact the DEP for further information.

There is no minimum recycled requirement for reusable carryout bags (or any included product) in this law. However, the use of recycled content in all allowable bags is encouraged.

No, there is no requirement for reusable carryout bags to be recyclable at this time, however as technology and markets progress for different products and materials, it is encouraged.

A pharmacy qualifies as a Store and shall not provide or sell single-use plastic carryout bags to customers, unless the plastic carryout bag is used to carry solely prescription drugs (see Section 1.12 above). Pharmacies are permitted to sell or provide single-use paper carryout bags.

This law does not require that customers purchase reusable carryout bags.

Yes, the definition for reusable carryout bag only applies to the bags that stores and businesses can provide or sell to customers.

Yes, the law allows for the sale of packages of paper bags and lawn bags from all Stores and Grocery Stores.

No, only single-use carryout bags are included in the portion of the law. Trash bags continue to be allowable to purchase in stores.

New

Yes, however, pursuant to P.L. 2022, c.6, signed by Governor Murphy on March 25, 2022, food banks and pantries (as defined in N.J.S.A. 13:1E-99.128) have been granted a 6-month extension for the single-use plastic bag mandate in the Single-Use Plastics Reduction legislation. Therefore, food banks and pantries may continue to provide single-use plastic bags to customers until November 4, 2022.

New

Reusable carryout bags, as defined in the law, are permitted for use by grocery stores for curbside pickup and delivery services. Beginning May 4, 2022, grocery stores are prohibited from selling or providing single-use paper or plastic carryout bags to customers. The law does not differentiate between in-store or curbside/delivery services that are contracted, or owned, by the grocery store or its parent companies; therefore, grocery stores will not be permitted by law to provide single-use plastic or paper bags for curbside/delivery services beginning on May 4, 2022.

As defined by the law:

  • A “Grocery store” is a self-service retail establishment that occupies at least 2,500 square feet and that sells household foodstuffs for off-site consumption, including, but not limited to, fresh produce, meat, poultry, fish, deli products, dairy products, canned foods, dry foods, beverages, baked foods, or prepared foods. “Grocery store” shall not include an establishment that handles only prepackaged food that does not require time or temperature controls for food safety.

The DEP recommends that grocery stores refer to the New Jersey Business Action Center (NJBAC) Vendor Clearinghouse (VC) for reusable carryout bag options. The VC website can be found at this link: https://business.nj.gov/bags/vendorclearinghouse. The vendor clearinghouse list identifies wholesale vendors and manufacturers of bags that meet the requirements of the law. While the VC aids businesses in identifying bags that are not prohibited by the law, business are not limited to purchase bags found only on the VC.

New

No. The law does not require any store or grocery store to provide customers with reusable carryout bags.

New

Single-use paper carryout bags, where they are permitted for sale/provision, are not required by law to have handles.

Note: Grocery stores are not permitted to provide or sell single-use paper carryout bags to customers beginning on May 4, 2022. All other stores and food service businesses may provide single-use paper bags to customers, with or without handles.

New

No, the law supersedes any municipal or county ordinance already in effect as of May 4, 2022; at which time any municipal or county ordinance that regulates the use of plastic bags or requires a customer to pay a fee for a carry-out bag will be superseded.

As stated in the law:

A municipality or county shall not adopt any rule, regulation, code, or ordinance concerning the regulation or prohibition of single-use plastic carryout bags or single-use paper carryout bags after the effective date of P.L.2020, c.117 (C.13:1E-99.126 et al.).

Beginning 18 months after the effective date of P.L.2020, c.117 (C.13:1E-99.126 et al.), this section shall supersede and preempt any municipal or county rule, regulation, code, or ordinance concerning the regulation or prohibition of single-use plastic carryout bags or single-use paper carryout bags that was enacted prior to the effective date of P.L.2020, c.117 (C.13:1E-99.126 et al.).

New

The law does not include fee exemptions because it supersedes any municipal or county ordinance already in effect as of May 4, 2022 that may have charged a fee or included fee exemptions for seniors. Beginning May 4, 2022, any municipal or county ordinance that requires a customer to pay a fee for a single-use carry-out bag or that provided fee exemptions to seniors will be superseded and thus nullified by this law.

The law neither requires nor prohibits a store from charging a fee for reusable carryout bags, therefore if a business offers reusable bags to customers, they may require purchase of the bags or charge a fee as those bags are not considered single-use carryout bags. All consumers are encouraged to bring reusable carryout bags to stores.

New

Each business should compare any alternatives to single-use plastic carryout bags with the statutory definition of “plastic” in the law. Any carryout bag that meets the full definition of plastic as defined in the law will be prohibited for sale or provision at stores, food service businesses, and grocery stores. Plastic is defined in the law as: “A synthetic material made from linking monomers through a chemical reaction to create an organic polymer chain that can be molded or extruded at high heat into various solid forms retaining their defined shapes during the life cycle and after disposal.”

New

Each business should determine if alternative bags meet the definition of plastic in the law. If the bag does not meet each (and every) criteria, in the definition of plastic then it is not regulated under the law. Businesses can also use the NJBAC Vendor Clearinghouse as a resource when choosing bags.

Interested parties are encouraged to participate in the Department’s rulemaking and stakeholder process for this law. If you are interested in participating in an upcoming stakeholder meeting, please email singleuseplastics@dep.nj.gov. In addition to the stakeholder meetings currently taking place, any regulations will be proposed by the Department prior to rule adoption. This will include public notice of the proposed rules and an opportunity for comment as well as an opportunity for businesses to come into compliance before the effective date of the regulations if the adopted regulations change any previously issued guidance.

New

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, NJ SNAP benefits/EBT cards cannot be used to purchase non-food items and therefore cannot be used to purchase a reusable bag or single-use plastic bag.

Additionally, there is no requirement for grocery stores to provide free reusable bags to customers.

Please see https://www.nj.gov/humanservices/njsnap/benefits/ for additional information.

New

No, the exemption for a bag used solely to contain food sliced or prepared to order, including soup or hot food describes a bag used solely to contain the food for which it was designed.

For example, an allowable bag under this exemption would be one that is used to contain sliced meats and cheeses from a deli counter, a bag made specifically to hold a rotisserie chicken or small bag with a solid base used to hold and stabilize containers of soup and other hot food like chili, etc.

Food Service Businesses shall no longer provide food to customers in polystyrene foam food service products beginning May 4, 2022.

Additionally, Stores shall no longer provide or offer for sale polystyrene foam food service products to customers beginning May 4, 2022.

The polystyrene foam food service products provision states no person shall sell or offer for sale in the State any polystyrene foam food service product.

Additionally, the Law states that no Food Service Business shall provide or sell any food in a polystyrene foam food service product.

  • Disposable, long-handled polystyrene soda spoons when required/used for thick drinks,
  • Portion cups of two ounces or less, if used for hot foods or foods requiring lids,
  • Meat and fish trays for raw or butchered meat, including poultry, or fish that is sold from a refrigerator or similar retail appliance, and
  • Any food product pre-packaged by the manufacturer with a polystyrene foam food service product.

These exemptions will be in effect for two years from the effective date of the Law, or until May 4, 2024. The law also allows the DEP to extend any of the polystyrene foam food service product exemptions referenced above for additional periods not to exceed one year. These extensions will only be considered upon receipt of written documentation that there is no cost-effective and readily available alternative for the item.

Any extended exemptions will automatically expire after one year, but the DEP may extend any such exemptions beyond one year upon receipt of further documentation as outlined in the paragraph above.

A waiver for the use of a specific polystyrene foam food service product may be submitted by any Food Service Business to the Department. If a waiver is granted, the specific product approved in the waiver may be used by the Food Service Business for a period not to exceed one year.

A waiver application must prove that a Food Service Business meets one of the following situations:

  • there is no feasible and commercially available alternative for a specific polystyrene foam food service product; or
  • the person or business has less than $500,000 in gross annual income and there is no reasonably affordable, commercially-available alternative to the polystyrene foam food service product.

These waivers must be approved in writing by the DEP. Waivers may be extended by the DEP for periods not to exceed one year upon written documentation submitted on the forms prescribed by the DEP.

Waivers are different than exemptions. Exemptions are specific to the list in Section 2.3 above. Waivers can be requested for any polystyrene foam food service product or food in a polystyrene foam food service product if the criteria outlined in this section apply.

New

Yes. The law states that no person or food service business shall provide or offer for sale any polystyrene foam food service product or any food in a polystyrene foam food service product.

The law does not exempt schools or non-profit businesses.

Food service business in the law is defined as a business that sells or provides food for consumption on or off the premises, and includes, but is not limited to, any restaurant, café, delicatessen, coffee shop, convenience store, grocery store, vending truck or cart, food truck, movie theater, or business or institutional cafeteria, including those operated by or on behalf of any governmental entity.

For additional information regarding the types of establishments covered by the law or how the law affects them please refer to the DEP's List of Establishments and Applicable Provisions.

New

Yes. The law states that “any food product pre-packaged by the manufacturer with a polystyrene foam food service product” shall be exempt from the provisions of the law until May 4, 2024. Therefore, provided that the retail establishment selling the eggs in the polystyrene foam egg carton receives the products from the manufacturer in the polystyrene foam egg carton, then they are permitted to sell the product until the exemption expires on May 4, 2024, unless extended.

The Department will continue its review and analysis of the definition of “pre-packaged” during the rule writing process and additional (or a change in) guidance may be implemented.

As defined by the law:

  • A “Polystyrene foam food service product” is a product made, in whole or in part, of polystyrene foam that is used for selling or providing a food or beverage, and includes, but is not limited to, a food container, plate, hot or cold beverage cup, meat or vegetable tray, cutlery, or egg carton.

The "by request only" provision for single-use plastic straws in the Single-Use Plastics Reduction Law becomes effective November 4, 2021.

Food Service Businesses shall only provide a single-use plastic straw to a customer only upon the request of the customer.

Nothing prohibits a store from selling packages of single-use plastic straws to customers or providing or selling a beverage pre-packaged by a manufacturer with a single-use plastic straw.

Yes, the “by-request-only” provision of the law for single-use plastic straws applies to all instances where a customer has the option of using or not using a single-use plastic straw including drive-thru establishments and self-service areas. Self-service straw dispensers are therefore not permitted for single-use plastic straws, and establishments may not offer single-use plastic straws to its drive-thru customers unless requested by the customer.

New

All single-use plastic straws, no matter the size, at any food service business, shall only be provided to a customer upon the request of the customer. Single-use plastic straws include those single-use plastic straws commonly used for coffee and alcoholic beverages.

Please note that under the law, businesses are not prohibited from providing customers with non-plastic straws at their discretion.

New

Yes. Food service businesses are required by the law to maintain an adequate supply of single-use plastic straws, for those instances where a customer requests a single-use plastic straw. Customers must be specific in their request for a single-use plastic straw.

If a business has transitioned or will transition to the use of non-plastic straws, and a customer requests a straw, a business may provide a non-plastic straw.

New

Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 13:1E-99.130 the Department of Health (DOH) is authorized to enforce the straw provisions of the law. To report non-compliance, you may contact:

The Department of Environmental Protection, municipalities, and any entity certified by the "County Environmental Health Act" have the authority to enforce the single-use plastic and paper carryout bag and polystyrene foam food service product provisions of the law.

The Department of Health enforces the plastic straw provision of the law.

A person or entity that violates the law shall be subject to a warning for the first offense, may be fined up to $1,000 per day for the second offense, and up to $5,000 per day for the third and subsequent offense. Violations of a continuing nature constitute an additional, separate, and distinct offense for each day that is deemed a violation.

The Single-Use Plastics Reduction Law supersedes and pre-empts all municipal and county rules, regulations, codes, or ordinances concerning the regulation or prohibition of single-use plastic or paper carryout bags, polystyrene foam food service products and single-use plastic straws. Every store or entity in New Jersey that is subject to the statewide law must comply with its requirements, regardless of where the store is located.

New

To report non-compliance with the single-use bags or polystyrene foam requirements of the law, you may contact:

Your County CEHA agent:

  1. https://www.nj.gov/dep/get-past-plastic/docs/ceha-agency-directory.pdf

NJ Department of Environmental Protection:

  1. By Phone: 1-877-WARN-DEP

Please visit the New Jersey Business Action Center's (NJBAC) Vendor List at https://business.nj.gov/Vendors

The NJBAC assists businesses and will post updates to the law on the https://business.nj.gov website as they become available. There is a Live Chat "Ask Our NJ Business Experts" feature on this website that fields business questions. The Live Chat is available Monday-Friday, from 8 am to 5 pm.

The law provides funding to the New Jersey Clean Communities Council to develop a statewide education and outreach program, and to implement the limited distribution of free reusable carryout bags in New Jersey. For more information on these programs, visit: https://www.njclean.org or https://www.bagupnj.com/.


More information about this law?

General information about the law can be found at the following websites:

E-mail: singleuseplastics@dep.nj.gov Phone: (609) 984-4250

Full Legislation

A copy of the law can be found at here .

Comments or questions on Get Past Plastic

singleuseplastics@dep.nj.gov
(609) 984-4250