N.J. votes to ban paper bags from state’s supermarkets
By Mihir Zaveri, New York Times

Paper or plastic? In New Jersey, try neither.

The state Legislature on Thursday voted to make New Jersey the first in the country to ban single-use paper bags in supermarkets along with all single-use plastic bags in stores and restaurants.

Eight other states, including California, New York, and Vermont, have bans on single-use plastic bags either in effect now or scheduled to go into effect in the coming years.

But by banning both plastic and paper single-use bags, as well as disposable food containers and cups made out of polystyrene foam, environmental advocates said the New Jersey bill is among the most stringent in the United States.

The ban would begin 18 months after the bill goes into effect. A spokesperson for Governor Phil Murphy said Thursday that Murphy intended to sign the bill.

Both single-use plastic and paper bags have environmental costs that have drawn the scrutiny of environmental advocates in recent years.

Plastic bags, which can take centuries to decompose, represent about 12 percent of the total plastic waste in America. Paper bags typically require more energy and greenhouse gas emissions to produce.