Pennacchio: Bag Ban Bad Policy

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Senator Joseph Pennacchio. File Photo

MORRIS COUNTY — Senator Joe Pennacchio said a ban on single-use bags approved by the New Jersey Senate is bad public policy that will inconvenience consumers and put their health at risk.

“The bag ban is bad policy,” said Pennacchio (R-26). “It creates a major inconvenience for consumers, raises costs, has dubious environmental benefits, and raises serious health concerns.”

The legislation, S-864, prohibits the provision or sale of single-use plastic carryout bags, single-use paper carryout bags, and polystyrene foam food service products, and limits the provision of single-use plastic straws.

A recent article posted by NPR highlighted some of the environmental concerns, including that people who often reuse plastic grocery bags for garbage or pet waste still have to buy plastic trash bags, which are often thicker and use even more plastic.

Similarly, an opinion piece posted by the Wall Street Journal last month effectively countered the oft-repeated claim that plastic bags from the United States end up in the world’s oceans.

Regarding health concerns, a study conducted by the University of Arizona that tested reusable grocery bags carried by shoppers found that more than half of the bags had high levels of dangerous bacteria, including E. Coli. Further, the study found that 97% of those interviewed never washed, bleached, or sanitized their reusable bags.

“The ban on plastic and paper bags is a feel-good measure that might not have New Jersey families feeling so good when their reusable bags make them sick,” added Pennacchio. “The simple fact is that an increasing number of studies are pointing out the many ways that these ill-conceived bag bans cause more harm than they prevent.”