The reality is apparent: single-use plastics and polystyrene are an environmental nightmare.
Our state alone uses 4.4 billion plastic bags annually, the effects of which are not hard to see. These bags persist in our waterways and green spaces for centuries. Every day we do not act on this problem, 12 million more plastic bags could end up in our streets, landfills, and oceans.
Plastic pollution, including plastic straws, threatens more than 600 species by means of ingestion and entanglement, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It acts as a sponge for contaminants present in our waterways, adsorbing PCBs, DDT, oil, and pesticides.
Single-use polystyrene, or Styrofoam, also poses a hazard to our natural resources. It takes more than half a millennium for a Styrofoam cup to break down, and carries toxins that move up the food chain to endanger human health. Use of plastic products leads to ingestion and/or inhalation of large amounts of both micro-plastic particles and hundreds of toxic substances with known or suspected carcinogenic, developmental, or endocrine-disrupting impacts.
Fortunately, New Jersey is now home to the strongest Plastic Pollution Reduction Law in the United States!
- Starting May 2022, both plastic and paper single-use bags, as well as disposable food containers and cups made out of polystyrene foam (Styrofoam), will be banned, with some exemptions.
- Stores less than 2,500 square feet can still provide paper bags.
- The law also restricts food-service businesses from handing out plastic straws, unless specifically requested by a customer, beginning in November 2021.