"Bring Your Own Bag" Ordinance
Begins Again August 1, 2021

Highland Park’s “Bring Your Own Bag” Ordinance

Restarts August 1st 2021


After years of education and outreach on the dangers of plastic, Highland Park passed its “Bring Your Bag” Ordinance in February, 2019.  This ordinance became effective May 1, 2019.


The purpose of this ordinance is to encourage the use of reusable bags and discourage the use of any single-use carry out bag.  To do this, the ordinance placed a fee of $0.10 on plastic bags in the first phase of implementation and then plastic bags were banned and the $0.10 fee was transferred to paper bags which the stores were offering instead of plastic.  The combination of “ban and fee” was very effective and in a short time after the “Bring Your Own Bag” ordinance went into effect many if not most customers were either bringing their own reusable bags or carrying their purchases out without any bags.  


Prior to the “Bring Your Own Bag” Ordinance there was an estimated 2 million single-use plastic bags being distributed yearly at our local businesses.  The ordinance has been very effective in reducing plastic waste and even paper waste because the fee is clearly a disincentive for using paper bags. 


Highland Park was proud to be one of the early adopter towns to institute a Bag Ordinance.  Since New Jersey had not passed a statewide bill in 2019, it seemed advisable to pass the ordinance and begin the process of reducing plastic waste at the local level.  


In March 2020 the COVID-19 lockdown caused Highland Park to suspend the “Bring Your Own Bag” Ordinance because it was not clear how the virus was being spread.  And so, for more than a year it has not been in effect.  Many customers, though, continued to bring reusable bags and many businesses continued to only distribute paper bags.


Now that many COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted and a majority of our residents have been vaccinated, the Borough has decided to reinstate the Ordinance.  The starting date will be August 1, 2021.  There should be signs up in stores to remind you to bring your own bags or pay for a paper bag.


New Jersey State Plastic Bag Ban To Go in to Effect May 4, 2022


New Jersey has passed the most comprehensive single-use bag ban in the country.  It not only bans the use of single-use plastic bags but in stores larger than 2,500 square feet all distribution of single-use paper bags will be banned as well.   It will also cover plastic straws and polystyrene containers as well. 

The State law will preempt our "Bring Your Own Bag" ordinance as soon as it goes into effect, May 4, 2022.  SHP will be doing outreach on the requirements of the new law.  Look for a workshop in the coming year.