New Jersey Senate votes to ban plastic, paper bags

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey is again looking to change the way customers take home food and beverages.

The state Senate on Thursday voted 22-14 to ban single-use plastic and paper bags along with foam containers. The bill would not ban plastic straws, but customers would have to request them.

Businesses that violate the ban would face a warning for a first offense, a fine of up to $1,000 for a second offense and a $5,000 fine for subsequent offenses.

“If you have been to the beach you can see it with your own eyes, our beaches are polluted with plastics. Children dig them up in the sand and swimmers pull plastic bags out of the water,” said the bill’s co-sponsor, Democratic Sen. Linda Greenstein.

Opponents include industry groups such as chemical manufacturers and grocery store owners, who argue the ban will make New Jersey an outlier compared to other states and increase costs to consumers because replacements will need to be found and implemented.

The measure failed to advance in the last legislative session and the Assembly was working on its own version.