Now that New Jersey’s toughest-in-the-nation bag ban has kicked in supermarkets and big box stores are not permitted to give shoppers any kind of plastic or paper bag, but that’s not the case for many other retail establishments.

The new law stipulates all regular types of plastic bags are banned, but Eileen Kean, the director of the New Jersey chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business, said some smaller stores are confused about what is permitted.

A paper bag is fine

The law allows paper bags at any retail establishment that is smaller than 2,500 square feet. This rules out supermarkets and big-bix stores but not smaller retailers.

“Many little boutiques have their own stylish paper bags with handles that become popular when you become a customer and you love the little bag because you do use it over once you get home," Kean said.

Kean said this can get a bit confusing.

“There is a learning curve involved and business owners, members of NFIB are trying to embrace the new world they live in,” she said.

Catalin205/Billion Photos/Townsquare Media photo illustration
Catalin205/Billion Photos/Townsquare Media photo illustration

Towns can't create their own bag laws

She stressed it’s important to understand that municipalities must follow the state bag law and cannot impose their own regulations.

“This is really good news for Main Street because what had been happening is municipalities were coming up with their own restrictions and it was definitely creating confusion,” she said.

Kean noted while plastic bags are a no-no, there’s an exemption for dry cleaners.

“Dry cleaners can still use plastic bags that they use to protect clean clothing when it’s delivered to a customer.”

Violators are fined $1,000.

“I think the business community is on board, not necessarily happy at how extreme this ban is, but they have no choice but to abide by the new law," Kean said.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

Click here to contact an editor about feedback or a correction for this story.

LOOK: States With the Most New Small Businesses Per Capita

To find the top 20 states with the most new small businesses per capita, Simply Business analyzed the Census Bureau’s Business Formation Statistics from August 2020 to July 2021.

Inside Betty White's Gorgeous Carmel-by-the-Sea Home

Take a look inside the late Betty White's peacefully gorgeous Carmel-by-the-Sea home.

Netflix’s Most Popular English-Language TV Shows Ever

These are the most popular TV shows ever on Netflix (in English), based on hours viewed in their first 28 days on streaming.


More From Beach Radio