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How to Get Ready for the Big Bag Ban, in Four Easy Steps

Union County, NJ – February 22, 2022 — As the winter weather changes into spring this year, everyone in Union County and throughout New Jersey will also see a big change at their favorite stores. Beginning on Wednesday May 4, a new state law called the “Bag Ban” goes into effect. When it does, stores and restaurants in New Jersey will no longer hand out free, single-use plastic bags.

The new law also has an additional provision for large grocery stores. Starting on May 4, grocery stores will not hand out any free single-use bags, whether paper or plastic. Shoppers will need to bring their own reusable bags or purchase them at the store.

“Changing from single-use bags to reusable bags is a big step for many Union County residents, and we hope to make the transition as smooth as possible by helping to raise awareness about the new law,” said Commissioner Chair Rebecca Williams. “We are all used to running out for groceries and getting bags from the store. Now we need to start a new habit, and bring our own bags when shopping.”

Union County residents and shoppers can prepare in advance by taking four simple steps:

Step 1: Start gathering enough reusable bags to accommodate your weekly grocery shopping or other large shopping trips.

Step 2: Hang your bags by your door, or put them in your car, where you are likely to remember them. Writing “BAGS” at the top of your shopping list is another effective memory trick.

Step 3: Keep a lightweight, foldable bag in your purse, backpack or pocket in case of unexpected errands.

Step 4: Don’t wait until May 4 — start shopping with reusable bags now.

The Bag Ban comes under the heading of New Jersey Public Law. 2020, c 117, a comprehensive state law intended to reduce waste, litter and pollution. The provision dealing with single-use plastic bags applies to all retail stores in New Jersey. The provision dealing with single-use paper bags applies to grocery stores larger than 2,500 square feet.

The law was enacted in 2020, providing retailers and the public with two years to prepare for the change to reusable bags.

Details about the law are available from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection at nj.gov/dep/plastic-ban-law.

Business owners and managers can find additional information at business.nj.gov/bags/plastic-ban-law.

For information about free County-sponsored recycling events and other recycling programs in Union County, visit the Union County Bureau of Recycling and Planning online at ucnj.org/recycle or call the Union County Recycling Hotline at 908-654-9889.

For quick links to all Union County environmental programs and activities visit The Green Connection, ucnj.org/green-connection.

For information and updates on all Union County services during the COVID-19 outbreak, including free vaccination, free testing, emergency food distribution and other support services, visit ucnj.org/covid19. General information about COVID-19 is available through the New Jersey Department of Health at nj.gov/health.

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For all Union County programs and services visit ucnj.org, call the Public Info Line, 877-424-1234, email info@ucnj.org or use the online Contact Form.

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