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New Jersey legislature sends paper bag ban to governor

New Jersey legislature sends paper bag ban to governor
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The New Jersey legislature passed sweeping legislation Thursday that would ban single-use paper bags at supermarkets, making the state the first to codify such a prohibition. 

The New Jersey General Assembly passed the legislation by a 48-24-7 vote and now sends it to Gov. Phil Murphy (D). The bill would ban also ban single-use plastic bags and curb the use of polystyrene takeout boxes.

"The governor is proud to support the strongest bag ban in the nation,” spokesperson Mahen Gunaratna told The Hill in a statement. “This bill will significantly reduce the harm that these products cause to our environment.”

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Eight other states have already passed legislation banning the use of single-use plastic bags in supermarkets, though some of those restrictions were eased due to concerns over reusable bags possibly aiding transmission of the coronavirus.

Environmentalists hailed the passage of the legislation as a sign of progress in the effort to curtail pollution from plastic, paper and polystyrene.

“New Jersey Assembly voted to pass the strongest single-use ban on plastics in the country to prioritize our wildlife and our communities over endless plastic waste polluting our waterways,” Doug O’Malley, the director of Environment New Jersey, said in a statement. “We urge Governor Murphy to sign this legislation as quickly as possible.”

Murphy vetoed a 2018 bill that would have added a 5-cent fee on single-use plastic bags, saying at the time it was “insufficient.”

Republicans and industry groups have come out against the legislation, warning the ban will hurt manufacturing plants. 

“This bill impacts manufacturing plants in New Jersey and New Jersey jobs during this terrible economic and pandemic time,” Dennis Hart, the executive director of the Chemistry Council, told The Associated Press.