If you live, shop, or buy groceries in New Jersey, then you’re probably aware that plastic bags will no longer be provided in grocery stores or big box stores. This new legislation was put in place to reduce the litter and debris that covers NJ beaches and riverfronts.

The ban on plastic bags is the result of years of negotiations to improve New Jersey’s environment. The outcome of the ban might not be clear to consumers and businesses immediately, but the major points are as follows:

  • Plastic carryout bags can no longer be given out or sold in any store or restaurant except woven plastic tote bags with stitched handles.
  • Paper bags cannot be given out in supermarkets or big-box stores that have grocery sections.
  • Foam food containers, including clamshell boxes and coffee cups, can no longer be given out. Plastic straws are available only upon request.

The USA TODAY Network New Jersey published a guide to the new rules.

Probably like most US states, New Jersey has had some recycling struggles, and not just with plastic bags. There is a warehouse in Trenton that recycles the waste that local municipalities can’t. Consumers and businesses send in boxes of hard-to-recycle waste to TerraCycle in boxes that are then sorted, disassembled, and processed. Because the US produces more plastics than another other country, recycling all of that can be overwhelming.

TerraCycle has experienced problems with the amount of plastic needed to be recycled in New Jersey. Jan Dell is the founder of a nonprofit that has been working on the recycling problem in California. She sent some plastic chip bags to Trenton for recycling, only to find out she was on a waitlist. Jan Dell sued the recycler, along with some major manufacturers for misleading labels.

The lawsuit was settled in 2021 and the packaging was changed to reflect the limitations of the program.

At Back Thru The Future headquarters, we get calls every day from consumers looking to recycle their CDs and DVDs. While we do destroy and recycle all kinds of media, including CDs and DVDs, most of our clients are businesses. The problem exists for consumers looking to shred or recycle small amounts of hard drives, DVDs, CDs, or other electronics in New Jersey, as some municipalities only accept this equipment on designated days.

If you’re a New Jersey resident with questions about the plastic bag ban, you can contact the DEP at singleuseplastics@dep.nj.gov.

If you’re a New Jersey business with CDs, DVDs or hard drives that need to be destroyed and recycled, contact us at shred@backthruthefuture.com or click here.