NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- Starting Wednesday, 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 2,500 square feet, which may only provide or sell reusable carryout bags.
As part of the same law, plastic straws are now only available upon request, though that took effect last November.
Officials say it is all about protecting the environment, because according to the EPA, less than 10% of discarded plastic actually gets recycled.
The rest goes to landfills, ends up as litter, or is incinerated.
Governor Phil Murphy and the New Jersey Legislature enacted the law on November 4, 2020, and it is the most progressive bag ban law in the country.
"This smart, uniform statewide law preempts all local ordinances," said New Jersey Food Council CEO Linda Doherty, who is also president of the New Jersey Clean Communities Council.
There is a warning for a first offense, up to $1,000 for a second offense, and up to $5,000 for a third or subsequent offense.
Penalties for violations will be deposited in the Clean Communities Program Fund, except that a municipality may retain 30% of any penalty it collects.
The law is strict.
Some stores, including 272 Wawa locations in the Garden State, were giving out free reusable bags Wednesday.
The Wawa giveaway came with a purchase only to the first 1,000 customers at those 272 locations.
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