Plastic Bag Ban
This web page has been prepared with some frequently asked questions for merchants and consumers regarding the Single Use Bag ban (Borough Code Chapter 136A) which began March 1, 2020.
1. How did this ordinance come to be?
The Madison Environmental Commission, in conjunction with Chatham Borough and Chatham Township Environmental Commissions presented the ordinance to the governing body for adoption.
2. Why ban single use, carry-out plastic bags?
To reduce litter, protect the environment, and remove hard-to-recycle bags from our waste system.
3.What’s in the ordinance?
The goal: shift to reusable bags. Plastic carry-out bags will be banned at retail establishments, except where exceptions apply. Paper bags will be available for a fee at check out, starting March 1, 2020.
4. Which plastic bags are not banned?
Bags for newspapers, dry cleaning, fresh produce, unwrapped foods such as fish and baked goods, prescription drugs, potted plants, cut flowers and items where wetness/dampness is an issue. Please see below a list of exceptions:
The following bags provided by operators and used by consumers inside retail establishments are exempted from the category of "Single Use Plastic Carry-out Bag".
|The following bags provided by operators of retail establishments shall be exempt from the 10¢ fee:|
|Package bulk items, such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, candies, or small hardware items||Bags to package bulk items, such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, candies, or small hardware items|
|Contain or wrap frozen foods, meat, or fish, whether packaged or not||Bags that contain unwrapped prepared foods or bakery goods|
|Contain or wrap flowers, potted plants, or other items where dampness may be an issue||Bags to take home uneaten food that has been served in a restaurant|
|Contain live animals, such as fish or insects sold in pet stores||Take out foods intended for consumption away from the retail establishment for reasons of public health and safety during the transportation of such food products|
|Contain unwrapped prepared foods or bakery goods||Bags that contain pharmacy prescriptions and medicinal products|
|Contain pharmacy prescriptions or medicines||Bags that function as "produce bags" or "product bags," which shall mean bags used exclusively to carry produce, meats, or other food items to the point of sale inside a retail establishment or, for reasons of public health and safety, to prevent such food items from coming into direct contact with other purchased items|
|Function as "produce bags" or "product bags," which shall mean bags used exclusively to carry produce, meats, or other food items to the point of sale inside a retail establishment or, for reasons of public health and safety, to prevent such food items from coming into direct contact with other purchased items||Paper bags provided by retail establishments with ten or fewer employees|
|Newspaper bags for home delivery, door-hanger bags, laundry and/or dry-cleaning bags, or bags sold in packages containing multiple bags intended for use as food storage bags, garbage bags, yard waste bags, or pet waste bags|
5. Who keeps the paper bag fee?
The store owner. In New Jersey, it is not legal for towns to direct these fees to a dedicated fund.
6. Is there a exemption to charging the 10¢ fee for retail establishments?
Paper bags provided by retail establishments with ten or fewer employees are exempt from charging the 10¢ fee.
7. How is a reusable bag defined?
Reusable Bag – A durable carryout bag with stitched handles for reinforcement made from any natural or synthetic materials other than plastic film, including, but not necessarily limited to, woven or non-woven plastic or cloth, that is at least 10 mils thick, and that is specifically designated and manufactured for multiple reuse, and that is washable or is made from a material that can be cleaned or disinfected regularly.
8. Are reusable bags sanitary?
If your reusable bags are made of cloth, you can keep them sanitized by washing them as you would your clothing. Non- washable reusable bags can be kept safe by putting unpackaged food in paper or plastic produce bags (found in the produce aisle and not subject to bans or fees). Best practices: Minimize all plastic and invest in washable, reusable produce bags.
9. Why don’t we just recycle plastic bags?
Only a small portion of bags are recycled. There are a limited number of products that can be made from thin bags.
10. What are the penalties for not complying with this ordinance and who gets penalized?
A summons in the amount of $100 can be assessed to business owners who repeatedly provide non-compliant single use plastic bags to customers. Fines increase for subsequent violations.
11. What should I do if I am a consumer?
Remember to carry a sufficient supply of reusable bags with you when shopping.
12. Have other states or communities started a similar ordinance?
Yes. Several northeastern states and individual communities - in and out of New Jersey - have similar laws or ordinances. This means a greater impact as collectively we can improve our environment especially our oceans.
13. Where can I get a flyer to post in my retail establishment window?
Merchants can download a PDF flyer here.
14. I have further questions regarding this ordinance. Who do I contact?
The Madison Health Department has been designated by the ordinance as the enforcement agency. You can reach them by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 973-593-3079 during normal business hours.