The Union County Board of County Commissioners is pleased to announce a new program aimed at addressing the surplus of reusable bags in our communities. As part of Commissioner Chairman Sergio Granados’ “Building a Stronger Union County,” theme for 2023, this new environmental initiative is in collaboration with the Union County Bureau of Recycling and Planning, the Town of Westfield and the Housing Authority of the City of Elizabeth (HACE) are partnering with GOATote, Inc. to provide a solution to this issue.
“We are delighted to introduce this innovative program, which will address the surplus of reusable bags in our communities,” said Commissioner Chairman Sergio Granados. “The County of Union is taking a proactive step towards sustainability and we aim to make a meaningful impact by repurposing these bags and ensuring they reach those in need. Together, we can create a more environmentally conscious and socially responsible community.”
With the implementation of New Jersey’s Get Past Plastic law, which prohibits businesses from providing single-use plastic bags, many individuals have transitioned to using reusable bags. However, some people occasionally forget to bring their reusable bags to stores, resulting in the purchase of additional bags. Over time, this has led to an accumulation of excess reusable bags in households. Furthermore, grocery delivery services often provide customers with reusable bags, contributing to the surplus.
At the same time, Food Pantries and Food Banks have expressed that they are having difficulty keeping up with the need for reusable bags when distributing groceries to their clients. Since these entities are no longer permitted to use single-use plastic bags when handing out food and supplies, they go through reusable bags very quickly and are frequently in need of more.
Recognizing the need to address this situation, the County Commissioners, in collaboration with Union County’s Recycling Bureau, the Town of Westfield and Housing Authority of the City of Elizabeth (HACE) have established two pilot drop-off points. The first is at the Westfield Conservation Center (1300 Lamberts Mill Road, Westfield). The second is located at Farley Towers (33 Cherry Street, Elizabeth). Residents from any municipality in Union County can bring their gently-used reusable bags to either location. GOATote, Inc. will collect the bags, thoroughly clean and sanitize them, and deliver them to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey in Hillside. From there, the bags will be distributed to local Food Pantries in need.
The Westfield Conservation Center is open on Thursdays/Fridays from 9:00 am to 2:30 pm and on Saturdays/Sundays from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm until October 22.Starting from October 23 until December 21, the center’s hours will be from Monday to Friday, 9:00 am to 2:30 pm, and Saturdays/Sundays from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.
For more information on the operation of the Conservation Center, please visit the Westfield Conservation Center website at www.westfieldnj.gov/conservation. For the drop off location at 33 Cherry Street in Elizabeth, the drop-off hours will be:
Monday through Thursday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.
The primary goal of this program is to ensure that reusable bags are truly being reused and made available to those who genuinely need them. Please note that the program only accepts bags in usable condition. We kindly request excluding any ripped, damaged, or otherwise unusable bags when making your drop-off.
For more information, upcoming dates and directions to all Union County recycling programs and locations, visit the Bureau of Recycling and Planning website at ucnj.org/recycle or call the Union County Recycling Hotline at 908-654-9889.