March 24, 2022

Trenton – In an effort to aid certain establishments in adopting the use of reusable carryout bags, the Senate today passed legislation sponsored by Senator Bob Smith and Senator Andrew Zwicker that would amend the May 4, 2022, single-use plastic and paper bag ban deadline for food banks and food pantries.


“As of 2020, over 1.2 million residents in New Jersey live in food-insecure households,” said Senator Smith (D-Middlesex/Somerset). “Our food banks and food pantries are a huge source of relief for these families, however; distributing food to residents in need often means relying on large quantities of inexpensive carryout bags to distribute the maximum amount of food to as many people possible. While the single-use bag ban will greatly reduce plastic waste across the State, it is important that we allow food banks additional time to make the switch to reusable bags so that we don’t hinder their operations. We want to ensure that they can continue to deliver food to those who need it the most.”


The bill, S-2363, would provide food banks and food pantries with a six month extension of the deadline set forth for the statewide ban of single-use plastic and paper bags. The new deadline for food pantries and food banks to act in accordance with the law would be November 4, 2022 instead of the original May 4, 2022 deadline.


“The financial toll of the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected our food-insecure households and the food banks and pantries that provide much needed relief. Reductions in donations due to various supply-chain issues and rising food costs has forced food banks and pantries to dedicate a greater portion of their budget towards purchasing food,” said Senator Zwicker (D-Middlesex/Mercer/Somerset/Hunterdon). “Many food banks and pantries are struggling right now while they work to recover from the pandemic. With this bill, we will provide 500,000 reusable bags and the time needed to make the transition so that they continue to help New Jerseyans in need.”


Under the bill, the Department of Environmental Protection would be required to distribute 500,000 free reusable carryout bags to the State’s food banks according to the populations served by each.


The bill was approved by the Senate by a vote of 33-0.