Testa Says Murphy Bag Ban Is Garbage, Needs Overhaul

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A man carries plastic shopping bags in New York

TRENTON, NJ – Senator Michael Testa today called for the complete overhaul of the state’s problematic single-use bag ban that has been in effect since the beginning of May.

“This is another example of Trenton Democrats leaping before they looked,” said Testa (R-1). “In their zeal to appease the Governor’s political allies, they passed a flawed bill that has created more problems. It is time to go back to the drawing board and get this right.”

Barely four months since enactment of New Jersey’s law, imports of the stitched-handle bags that have filled the single-use void for shoppers have increased by 500 million bags, almost doubling the annual consumption.

Most of that was destined to New Jersey, the only state to implement a bag law.

“These imported carriers, specifically allowed by the current law, are all manufactured overseas, and they cannot be recycled in the U.S. This is what happens when legislation is rushed through and proponents refuse to listen to reason,” Testa noted.

“The restriction should have been designed to utilize bags made in America and recyclable in America. It is more important to get things done right than it is to get it done fast.”

One of the unintended consequences of the new law has been on grocery stores, where the handy “quick stop” baskets people use to grab bread and milk are disappearing. So many have been taken home by shoppers that many grocers are no longer offering the convenience.

Another law-created problem has been magnified by the pandemic-ignited popularity of curbside pickup at groceries, department stores and big box retailers. As a result, the reusable bags are piling up in closets, basements, and garages across the state.

“They may be reusable bags, but in too many cases they are only being used once,” Testa said. “It is a waste of money that is burdening the state’s employers, and piling on to product costs, compounding the impact of 8 percent inflation.”

The Senator said lawmakers rushing to ban single-used plastic bags should have looked no further for a solution than right here in New Jersey.

“We should have capitalized on the manufacturing power of in-state companies, who are capable of filling the plastic void with paper bags. The bags could be made from recycled paper, and after use, they could be easily recycled again,” noted Testa, the co-chair of the New Jersey Legislative Manufacturing Caucus.

“The sensible solution is to re-work the problematic law in a way that benefits manufacturers in New Jersey and the U.S., rather than punishing them and mandating bags coming in from China and elsewhere.”