(RightIsRight.co) – A recent report by the Freedonia Group has raised concerns about the unintended environmental and economic consequences of New Jersey’s 2022 ban on single-use plastic bags.
While the ban, enacted under Governor Phil Murphy’s administration, aimed to reduce pollution, the Freedonia Group’s findings suggest it may have inadvertently increased greenhouse gas emissions and overall plastic consumption.
The report indicates that following the ban, the use of single-use plastic bags in New Jersey decreased by approximately 60%.
However, this was offset by a surge in the use of more durable reusable plastic bags, leading to an almost 300% increase in plastic consumption.
These reusable bags are primarily made from woven and non-woven polypropylene (NWPP), a type of plastic not typically recycled in the U.S. The production of these NWPP bags is significantly more resource-intensive, consuming over 15 times more plastic and generating over five times the greenhouse gas emissions per bag compared to single-use bags.
Furthermore, the report sheds light on the economic benefits that the ban has brought to retailers.
Grocers in the state have seen substantial profits from selling reusable bags, with an average store potentially earning $200,000 in profit from these sales. This profit is notable given that these reusable bags are often used only three times or less before being discarded.
The report also estimates that a major retailer in the state could make around $42 million annually from selling these bags.
Despite the initial environmental goals of the ban, the report suggests that the frequent underuse of these reusable bags fails to compensate for the environmental cost of their production.
Local environmentalists have acknowledged the ban’s role in reducing waste on state beaches, yet the broader environmental and economic impacts outlined in the report present a complex scenario.
Governor Murphy’s office has not yet commented on the report’s findings and their implications for the state’s environmental policies.