Grocery bag ban is taking its toll in New Jersey

Plastic grocery bag full of staples

Photo: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP (Getty Images)

Bag ban in New Jersey came into force in May. Since then, the headlines about simply shopping in New Jersey have piled up.

There are no bags. People are steal baskets. Shopping carts are going to be taken. People are buried in piles of reusable bags. What shWhat would we do with all those reusable bags? Legislators are considering rolling back part of the bag ban altogether.

New Jersey, how are you?

According to Surfrider Foundation, 500 plastic bag ordinances have been passed in 28 states and nine states, including New Jersey, have banned them altogether. OWhile growing pains have accompanied bag bans before, no one expresses this pain just like New Jersey.

The key to why is, other than maybe New Jersey rooted personality, perhaps for most grocers the ban was also on paper bags. New Jersey Law banned all “single use” bags, paper or plastic, for stores over 2,500 square feet. That haits leads to a spiral of unintended consequences that seem like a case study in what can go wrong with bag bans.

grocery storesjumping baskets

In July, a flurry of headlines hit the New Jersey news How? ‘Or’ What shopping carts were disappearing across the state. Many of these reports were accompanied by warnings: Stop by taking the baskets, or we’ll take the baskets away for good.

“They are disappearing” Louis Scaduto Jr., general manager of Middletown-based Food Circus Super Markets, Told “I may have to remove them soon, I can’t afford to keep replacing them.”

The gist of the shopping basket stories was that people forgot their reusable bags and, rather than buying one in the shop, left with the baskettreating it’s a their reusable bag.

Reusable groceries Bags

While we haven’t seen many reports of people with a house full of stolen baskets, there has been a flurry of reports of people with sizable piles of reusable bags. A New York Times articlee earlier this month featured several New Jerseyyears who ended up with a large number of reusable bags and don’t know what to do with them. A person has 101 bags and can sew them into curtains. another resident a 89. And count.

A reusable bag made from recycled plastic bags must be used 11 times to pay on the environmental impact of its manufacture. Which isn’t so heavy if you only have a few in your possession. But 101? I would get to sew those curtains too.

Why are all those reusable bags piling up? Those ordering groceries for delivery, which has become more common during the pandemic and is a lifesaver for those who can’t get to the grocery store, now receive their groceries in reusable bags. Because these groceries come from a store of more than 2,500 square feetboth Plastic and paper bags are prohibited.

The problem is the grocery store can’t accept these reusables. bags once they have entered someone’s house. “We’ve had customers come in with stacks of bags 30, 40 deep like, ‘Here can you please reuse them?’ And we can’t,” Chris Mentzer, operations manager at Rastelli Market Fresh in Marlton, Told ABC 6 Action News in Philadelphia.

The same news recommend those who have too many bags donate them to the food bank. Food banks have until November 4 to stop using plastic bags themselves. New Jersey Community Food Bank even created a tool to help people determine where they can donate their bags.

Change the grocery bag laws

This week, it was reported that some lawmakers are considering tweak the law in a way that could help mitigate at least one of the New Jersey problemsand are confronted. New ideas for how to deliver groceries are explored, including cardboard boxes and, yes, paper bags.

This isn’t the first time a bag ban law has been changed after it came into effect.. In 2015, Chicago lawmakers ban thin plastic bags in stores. In response, stores started using thicker plastic bags, nullifying all although the loss of thin bags has obtained. Lawmakers came back to the table in 2016 to demand a 7 cent charge for every bag usedand who brought people on board. Suddenly, reusable bags were all the rage.

“The painful experience of loss is more effective in changing habits than a positive gain,” said a Politico article from 2019 on the subject. The story explains that surveys by Tatiana Homonoff, an assistant professor of economics and public policy at New York University, found that customers said they wouldn’t bring a reusable bag if it meant they’d save a penny , but that they would bring one if they left to be charged a nickel.

The changes New Jersey lawmakers are currently considering to grocery delivery receptacles don’t seem to solve the shopping cart problem, though. Taking note of Chicago, can we expect a fee to use the baskets in the future, or, at least, to take them out of the store?

About Ronda Reed

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