Philadelphia's bag ban goes into effect Friday with a six-month grace period.

Across the river, a ban on plastic straws starting next month is the first step toward an eventual ban on plastic bags in New Jersey.

In the City of Brotherly Love, supermarkets, convenience stores, restaurants service stations, department stores and retail clothing stores are among those that will no longer be able to provide single-use plastic bags or paper bags that do not contain at least 40% recycled content.

Enforcement of Philly's ban will begin on April 1 after the grace period. Violators will be fined a minimum penalty of $75. If businesses repeatedly or egregiously violate the ordinance, the city may take them to court and ask the judge to impose additional penalties.

New Jersey, meanwhile, has a single-use plastic bag ban coming in 2022 as a result of legislation signed by Gov. Phil Murphy on Nov. 4, 2020. It will ban single-use plastic and paper carryout bags, styrofoam containers, styrofoam cups of less than 2 ounces and styrofoam trays used with raw meat, fish and poultry.

NJ's Bag Up NJ campaign
NJ's Bag Up NJ campaign (NJ Food Council)

When does New Jersey's plastic bag ban begin?

All stores and food-service businesses will no longer be able to offer single-use plastic and paper carryout bags starting May 4, 2022.

Isn't there a ban on plastic straws?

Yes. It takes effect on Nov. 4.

What kind of reusable bags can I use?

The bags must be made of polypropylene fabric, PET non-woven fabric, nylon, cloth, hemp product, or other washable fabric. They have to have stitched handles and be designed and manufactured for multiple reuses.

I heard more things will be banned

Polystyrene foam food-service products and foods sold or provided in polystyrene foam foodservice products will also be banned on May 4, 2022 but will be exempt for another two years until May 4, 2024. Those items include:

  • Disposable, long-handled polystyrene foam soda spoons when required and used for thick drinks;
  • Portion cups of two ounces or less, if used for hot foods or foods requiring lids;
  • Meat and fish trays for raw or butchered meat, including poultry, or fish that is sold from a refrigerator or similar retail appliance;
  • Any food product pre-packaged by the manufacturer with a polystyrene foam foodservice product; and
  • Any other polystyrene foam foodservice product as determined necessary by the DEP.

What are the fines for violating New Jersey's ban?

A first offense gets a warning while a second offense by any person or entity could result in a fine of up to $1,000 per day. Fines are $5,000 for third and subsequent violations.

Who will enforce the new law in New Jersey?

The Department of Health enforces the plastic straw provision of the law. The DEP, municipalities and any entity certified by the County Environmental Health Act have the authority to enforce the law.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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