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As 2022 plastic bag ban nears, New Jersey awareness efforts increase
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As 2022 plastic bag ban nears, New Jersey awareness efforts increase

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LOWER TOWNSHIP — On an unseasonably warm October Friday, passengers boarding and departing at the Cape May-Lewes ferry terminal were given reusable shopping bags.

The act was part of an education campaign preparing New Jersey residents and visitors for a law banning businesses from selling or providing single-use plastic carryout bags.

The law, which Gov. Phil Murphy signed last November, goes into effect May 4, 2022.

Some believe New Jersey is behind the curve when it comes to the banning of single-use plastics.

Diana Delgrosso Kensington, of Maryland, said her state has charged a nickel for use of bags for years.

“Once they implemented the bag tax, it really reduced the waste,” said Delgrosso, who was on her way back from an anniversary trip to Cape May with her husband.

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Locally, some municipalities have already taken action to deter the use of single-use bags. In 2018, Ventnor passed an ordinance that placed a 5-cent fee on single-use plastic bags. Other coastal communities like Brigantine and Stone Harbor banned single-use plastic bags completely and fine businesses that violate the ordinances, which went into effect in 2019. Somers Point, home to two major grocery stores and soon a Target, also has a bag ban in place.

“We’re trying to change everybody’s habits now before May 4 so they’re not caught off guard. If you go to a grocery store without a bag, you’re going to have to buy a reusable bag,” said JoAnn Gemenden, executive director of New Jersey Clean Communities.

According to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the law defines reusable bags as ones that “are made of polypropylene fabric, PET non-woven fabric, nylon, cloth, hemp product, or other washable fabric; have stitched handles; and are designed and manufactured for multiple reuses.”

The event was a partnership between New Jersey Clean Communities and the Environmental Health and Safety Department of the Delaware River & Bay Authority. Cape May County Commissioner Jeffrey Pierson helped hand out bags and discussed the law with travelers.

Albert Fralinger, environmental health and safety manager for the DRBA, was inspired by a similar event that took place earlier this year in Asbury Park. When he heard New Jersey Clean Communities was looking for partners, he thought catching people coming and going at the ferry would be a perfect opportunity.

“Why not take advantage of the location? We have a team on each vessel, a table with bags and three people getting all of the people who are driving on; and tables for walk-ons in the terminals, catching both those leaving and arriving,” Fralinger said.

“As a general rule, everybody’s been saying ‘long overdue’ and welcomes the change,” he said. “At the end of the day, they can still bring their plastic bags to the grocery store if they want and use them. It’s just that the stores will not be providing it to them.”


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