Plastic straws only allowed by request under new law in New Jersey

Pre-packaged beverages that come with a straw, like juice boxes, will still be permitted.
TRENTON, New Jersey (WPVI) -- New Jersey is taking another step to reduce plastic pollution.

Starting Thursday, businesses will only be allowed to provide single-use plastic straws to customers who make a request.

Pre-packaged beverages that come with a straw, like juice boxes, will still be permitted.

The restriction is part of a broader state law enacted last year.

READ MORE: New Jersey bans single-use plastic, paper bags in stores, food businesses

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy previously said the bill is a significant step to reduce pollution that these products cause to the environment.

It's the strictest crackdown against single-use of plastics in the country.

"Plastic straws are great. I don't see why we got to be sucking on paper pulp. It's awful. No one likes them," said Robert Borzotta of Cherry Hill.

The intent is to protect the environment.

The new bill also impacts plastic bags.

"Plastic bags are one of the most problematic forms of garbage, leading to millions of discarded bags that stream annually into our landfills, rivers, and oceans," said Murphy.

Arnie's Gourmet and Butcher Shop has planned well in advance. The shop has converted to using only reusable bags, which they said will affect their bottom line.

"You can weigh the option about getting thicker plastic bags for their customers, but they're also three to four times the cost," Mark and Arnie Madrigale said. "It's going to affect us out of pocket for sure."

Businesses impacted include restaurants, movie theaters and grocery stores. For businesses that don't comply, it's a $1,000 fine for the first and second violations.

For every following violation, it's a $5,000 fine.

The money goes towards the Clean Communities Program, which provides litter clean-up grants throughout the state.

Owners like Arnie Madrigale can relate.

"One how it pollutes our seas and oceans. And landfills are over capacity with plastics," Madrigale said.

At a restaurant, a diner must now specifically ask for a straw.

Owner Richard Eckard of the Ice Cream Parlor in Cherry Hill said it's necessary. He will soon be switching to paper straws.

"We had two spaceships out in the solar system. Why can't we make biodegradable things?" asked Eckard.

Both plastic and paper single-use bags, as well as disposable food containers and cups made out of polystyrene foam, will be banned beginning May 2022.

ONLINE: New Jersey Clean Communities Council's 'Bag Up NJ'

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