Starting March 28, 2023, Walmarts in New Jersey will begin charging their customers for shopping bags at checkout, no longer offering free plastic grocery bags. For delivery orders, customers will be charged 42 cents per bag. For pickup or in-store purchases, the bags are only 10 cents. This new initiative was created to try and tackle the “climate crisis.”

This new policy is being implemented in order to comply with New Jersey’s recent single-use plastic laws which states, “New Jersey retail stores, grocery stores and food service businesses may not provide or sell single-use plastic carryout bags and polystyrene foam food service products. Single-use paper carryout bags are allowed to be provided or sold, except by grocery stores equal to or larger than 2500 square feet, which may only provide or sell reusable carryout bags.”

Exemptions from the ban on single-use plastics include:

  • Bags used solely for wrapping uncooked meat, fish, or poultry
  • Bags used solely for containing loose items such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, coffee or baked goods
  • Bags used solely for delivering newspapers
  • Laundry or dry-cleaning bags
  • Bags sold in packages containing multiple bags intended for use as garbage or pet waste bags

Per these exemptions, shoppers will still get bags for their raw meats and produce at the grocery store in order to prevent cross-contamination.

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On the company website, Walmart explains its “Bag Better” initiative, saying they have “set a goal to become a zero waste company, and plastic bags are part of that.”

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“Fewer single-use plastic bags in circulation can help reduce the amount of litter that damages ecosystems or poses a threat to wildlife and humans… As we continue our journey, we’re committed to identifying solutions that prioritize customers’ convenience and expectations, no matter how you shop with us.”

Praising the new initiative, Jane Ewing, the senior vice president of Walmart Sustainability, said, “Walmart is committed to making the sustainable choice convenient and accessible every day.”

New Jersey is not the only state where Walmart no longer provides free, single-use bags. California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon, and Vermont have all prohibited single-use plastics.

This change has frustrated many customers who are already feeling the pressure from high grocery prices without the added fee of shopping bags.

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