New Jersey Mulls Plastic Bag Ban

TRENTON, N.J. -- A bill introduced in New Jersey's Assembly could reportedly make that state the first to prohibit the use of plastic grocery bags.

If enacted, the measure would require supermarkets and other retailers with at least 10,000 square feet of space to phase out plastic bags by the end of 2010, and to provide recycling bins for plastic bags and offer reusable shopping bags.

"Plastic bags may be cheap and convenient, but they have costly long-term environmental consequences that just can't be ignored," said Herb Conaway, a co-sponsor of the bill with fellow Democratic Assemblyman Jack Conners, in a statement. "We need to get these bags out of the waste stream because they are polluting our soil and our water."

Earlier this year, San Francisco became the first American city to ban the use of plastic bags at large supermarkets, and Oakland, Calif. has followed suit. The state of California has passed a law requiring large stores accept bags back from consumers and encourage recycling. The trend isn’t limited to the United States: Ireland placed a tax on plastic bags in 2002, thereby reducing their use by 90 percent, and some Australian communities have instituted bans.
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