The state Senate passed a bill on Thursday that would ban single-use bags -- both paper and plastic -- and Styrofoam takeout containers.

In addition, straws would only be available if you ask for one.

However, you need not scamper-around looking for a stockpile of bags to take to the grocery store just yet. The state assembly needs to pass a version of the bill and then Gov. Murphy would need to sign it. If or when that takes place, the bag ban would start 18 months later, according to NJ.com.

The bill, S864, introduced by State Senators Bob Smith and Linda Greenstein, reads in part,

The Legislature therefore determines that it is no longer conscionable to permit the unfettered use and disposal of single-use plastics in the State; that New Jersey must do its part to minimize plastic pollution in the ocean, and to ensure that future generations have a clean and healthy environment to live, work, and recreate in; that banning or limiting the use of single-use plastic carryout bags, polystyrene foam food service products, and single-use plastic straws is a significant step in this effort, as these items are among the most significant sources of beach and ocean pollution...

Four senators were present Thursday but did not vote, including Chris Brown (R-Atlantic).

“We’ll work with the Assembly and see where we can go with it,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney. “One of the reasons why we included plastic and paper was that since the plastic bag ban in New York, you can’t get paper bags. A lot of these, like the ShopRites of the world, can’t get the supplies they need and the prices are going up. And the price will only go up even more.”

An effort to pass similar bag-banning legislation failed earlier this year as lawmakers could not agree on the paper bag part of a bill.

Last August, Gov. Murphy vetoed a measure that would have imposed a 5-cent fee on carry-out bags, a proposal that was opposed by environmental groups because fees have not done enough to discourage people from using plastic bags in other parts of the country.

While dozens of towns across New Jersey have already imposed restrictions and/or fees for using bags or straws, should the governor sign this legislation, the Garden State would be first in the nation to ban both types of bags.

One of those such towns is Stone Harbor where plastic carry-out bags, straws, or Styrofoam containers for leftovers or take-out are banned; paper bags and plastic utensils have to be made of recycled material; and utensils, lids and condiment packages have to be given upon request.

On a county level, Atlantic County has banned the use of single-use bags in county parks; violators face fines of up to $500. In Camden County, a similar law is on the books, but in addition to bags and containers, bottled water in single-serve containers and balloons have been banned at all county government facilities and county-sponsored events.

 

With prior reporting from Townsquare Media's Erin Vogt and Sergio Bichao

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