TRENTON – New legislation scheduled to be voted on by a Senate committee next week would tweak New Jersey’s single-use bag ban so that reusable bags used in grocery deliveries don’t keep piling up in people’s homes.

Under the proposed bill, S3114, grocery delivery services and their customers would have new packaging options for delivery and pickup of grocery orders, and delivery services would be required to take back excess bags from customers and reuse or recycle them.

'Plastics are a real problem'

Sen. Bob Smith, D-Middlesex, said the ban on single-use plastic and paper bags that took effect May 4 “has been a tremendous aid” in reducing plastic waste but “it is evident that there is a glitch” regarding home delivery services.

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“We want to rectify this issue for residents by providing additional options for grocery delivery packaging while we continue to develop more sustainable and practical alternatives,” Smith said. “Plastics are a real problem, so we don’t want to bring them back, but we do want to make sure New Jerseyans are not being inconvenienced by the influx of reusable bags.”

Proposed changes to law

Under the bill, customers could choose to continue receiving delivered groceries in reusable bags. Alternatively, they could choose to get their groceries in cardboard boxes or paper bags made from at least 40 percent post-consumer recycled content for the next five years. Or, deliveries could be placed unpackaged in a receptacle at the customer’s home.

“The changes we are proposing will prevent people who use grocery services from being stuck with large numbers of reusable bags they don't need, while allowing additional packaging choices that are both convenient and environmentally friendly,” said Sen. Kristen Corrado, R-Passaic, who is also sponsoring the legislation.

Smith urged residents to donate their unwanted reusable bags to their local food bank or pantry while the change in the law is going through the legislative process.

The bill is scheduled for a hearing Thursday in the Senate Environment and Energy Committee, which Smith chairs.

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