An ordinance that will ban the distribution of single-use plastic bags at most businesses in Kearny was unanimously adopted by the governing body at a meeting of the Mayor and Council on Feb. 18.

The new law goes into effect in April 22, 2021.

According to the ordinance, single-use bags will be prohibited except:

  • Bags, whether plastic or not, in which loose produce or products are placed by a customer to deliver such items to the point of sale or checkout of a retail establishment, such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, candy, cookies or small hardware items.
  • Laundry or dry-cleaning bags.
  • Newspaper bags.
  • Bags used to contain or wrap frozen food, meat, fish or other items, whether prepackaged or not, to prevent or contain moisture and cross contamination with other food products.
  • Bags provided by pharmacists to contain prescription drugs.
  • Bags sold in packages containing multiple bags intended for use as garbage, pest waste or yard waste bags.
  • To contain or wrap flowers and potted plants.
  • Contain items where damage to a good or contamination of other goods placed together in the same bag would result.

The ban applies to businesses including, but not limited to, mercantile establishments, department stores, food-service establishments, restaurants, pharmacies, convenience and grocery stores, liquor stores, supermarkets, clothing stores, seasonal and/or temporary businesses, jewelry stores and others.

The law also mandates businesses provide paper bags that can be recycled — or reusable bags at a cost of no less than 10¢ a piece. Said reusable bags may not be provided, by a business owner, to its clients and customers, for free.

In order for a bag to be considered reusable, it must have the capacity to be utilized 125 times, carry 22 pounds and travel at least 175 without breaking. It must also be cleanable and it must have the ability to be sanitized, also.

However, businesses my apply for a hardship exemption.

According to the ordinance, “the mayor and Council may approve a request for an exemption or deferral from the requirements by any operator of a retail establishment, with or without conditions, upon a showing of substantial hardship or other good cause. Exemptions or deferrals should be granted only for the minimum time necessary to accommodate the reason for the request.”

The Kearny Health Department will be charged with enforcing the new law.

And, for businesses that violate the new law, after April 22, 2021, there will be fines, including:

  • First incursion: Written warning by the Kearny Health Department.
  • Second incursion: $100 penalty per instance.
  • Third incursion: $250 penalty per instance.
  • Fourth incursion: $500 penalty per instance.

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.