Overflowing with reusables? NJ tables plan to bring back paper bags
More than eight months into New Jersey's ban, hopefully you've gotten used to the absence of single-use bags at the supermarket registers.
But now you may be dealing with another issue: what do I do with all of these reusable bags?
Advocates suggest there's a gap in the process now — online shoppers are flooded with reusable bags they probably don't need, while other individuals and groups could use them.
Legislation to address this gap appears to be on the back burner for now, but groups are working to take on the challenge themselves.
According to nj.com, any action on legislation to tweak New Jersey's bag ban won't be occurring for at least a few months, if at all.
The legislation, considered by a Senate committee in 2022, would give grocery stores the option to use certain single-use paper bags for delivery and curbside pickup orders. Additionally, grocery stores and delivery service providers that use reusable bags would have to come up with a way for consumers to return their bags, and establish a reuse or donation plan for the bags.
"We don't need a mandate," Linda Doherty, president and CEO of the New Jersey Food Council, told New Jersey 101.5.
Doherty said the Food Council is working with a diverse group of stakeholders to develop "an innovative resolution" related to e-commerce. Ideally, she said, customers who constantly receive reusable bags would have a drop-off spot in the community for the bags, which can then be collected and sanitized, and distributed to communities in need, food banks, and senior groups.
"This effort will close the loop in this small gap," Doherty said.
From May to December, grocery and convenience stores in New Jersey eliminated about 4.8 billion plastic bags from circulation, and about 96 million paper bags, Doherty said.
The Food Council is not on board with the proposed law's call for the return of single-use paper bags. Under the legislation, they'd be an option for delivery and pickup orders, as long as the bags contain at least 40% postconsumer recycled content.
"This program is the most successful program in the nation, and it's groundbreaking, so we don't want to take a step backwards," Doherty said. "Why reintroduce a paper bag when we can come up with a system in the community where we can collect reusable bags?"