New study says plastic bag ban in New Jersey may not be working, but many disagree

New Jersey banned the use of plastic bags to help protect the environment almost two years ago.

But is it helping or hurting?

CBS New York breaks down a new report that has shocking new numbers.

Nicole Brown of Bergenfield recently went on what she calls an average trip to the Englewood Shop Rite, buying groceries and using six new reuseable plastic bags to carry them.

“You have to buy them, most of the time,” Brown said.

Even though, she admits, she has about 30 bags just sitting at home.

“It’s annoying. I am sick of them. I have a house full of bags,” Brown said.

Forgetting to bring them is to blame, and she’s far from alone in that regard.

“I have a bunch, like too many,” said Laura Aponte of Dumont.

“Probably like 50 or more,” said Kim Grevler of Englewood. “We need to have a system where we can bring them back and like a pick a penny, take a penny. Like, you leave bags and shoppers can take them.”

Since food shoppers often fail to remember their bags and then need to buy more, it could be adding to the Garden State’s plastic consumption. That finding is outlined in a new report from the market research group Freedonia Custom Research, which shows the ban on plastic bags could be harming the environment more than helping it. Restaurants and online grocery delivery services using reusable bags are also causing issues.

The study finds the total shift results in a nearly 300% increase in plastic consumption. After all, experts say reusable bags are made with 15 times more plastic.

And while the new study may seem to be alarming, some area officials say there may be some problems with it.

Democratic state Sen. Bob Smith, who sponsored the bill banning single-use plastic bags, said the new law is working.

“They’re saying reusable bags end up generating more plastic than is being removed and that is actually true for the first or second year, and that is not that surprising. You’re replacing all the single-use bags,” Smith said.

Smith said study was funded by the American Recyclable Plastic Bag Alliance.

The president and CEO of the Plastic Industry Association said in part, “Bans may be simple laws to write, but they don’t make for good policy.”

When asked if he trusts the study, Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey, said, “This study is not worth the paper it’s written on because we can’t look at the full methodology.”

O’Malley said the ban has removed 5.5 billion single-use plastic bags.

“That’s nearly 600 plastic bags that have been reduced because of New Jersey state law per person in the state. This is a clear success for New Jersey,” O’Malley said.

He added if shoppers just remembered to actually bring them, the state would be better off.

The report also found the average grocery store is making about $200,000 on reusable bags.

Source: CBS News

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