On 1st anniversary of bag ban, N.J. Clean Communities Council calls it huge success

Group: 8.4B single-use bags have been removed from state’s water stream

We get it — the aggressive ban on single-use bags at stores didn’t seem very effective when you walked into a store and realized you left your bags in the car. Or, even, at home.

These memory lapses aside, the New Jersey Clean Communities Council — on the first anniversary of the ban — said it feels the law has been more successful than most people could have envisioned.

“We are very pleased to witness the astonishing results of the bag ban; we no longer see billions of single-use bags littering our waterways, parking lots and waste streams,” NJCCC Chair Linda Doherty said.

With approximately 2,000 grocery stores in New Jersey, the NJCCC can estimate this law has helped eliminate 13.7 million paper bags and 688 million plastic bags per month from food stores. That equates to New Jersey saving 8.4 billion single-use bags every year from entering our landfills or polluting our environment.

NJCCC Executive Director Joann Gemenden said the numbers are staggering.

“As we reflect on the one-year anniversary of the law, we are amazed at the cumulative effect, as well as the enormous public support received statewide from individuals who recognize the environmental and sustainable success as shoppers moved to reusable bags,” she said.

The law also has helped develop stronger relationships between the NJCCC, the state Department of Environmental Protection, the New Jersey Food Council and the New Jersey Business Action Center, Doherty said.

Together, this public-private partnership developed a statewide education campaign, known as Litter Free NJ, which continues to be the one-stop resource for anyone needing information about the law and how best to comply.

The next phase of the Litter Free NJ campaign is an informal partnership between the NJCCC and the NJFC, which have created a “Blueprint for a Reusable Bag Redistribution Plan.”

The effort involves numerous local and county solid waste agencies, nonprofits, food banks, civic groups, the NJDEP, business groups and other interests that will offer dropoff and collection sites for reusable bags to be sanitized and recirculated for residents in need.

“As our latest initiative gains momentum, innovative efforts, such as this, will become mainstream in our communities,” Doherty said.