Distributors struggle to prepare for impending plastic ban in NJ

SOUTH JERSEY (KYW Newsradio) — The question of “paper or plastic?” at the supermarket will end soon in New Jersey.

The state ban on most single-use plastics takes effect May 4, and stores will not be allowed to provide bags to customers. Customers will need to bring or buy their own reusables.

New Jersey’s ban on plastics is the strictest in the nation, also preventing restaurants from using polystyrene containers for takeout.

Brandon Spector, general manager of Supply It All in Vineland, a major restaurant supply distributor, said preparing for the new law on top of a global supply shortage has been difficult to say the least. Items that normally took a week or two to arrive at a warehouse are now two months late.

“A lot of domestic manufacturers just ran out of products that can become alternatives and be used in our state,” he said.

His company supplies packaging materials to thousands of businesses in the region and he urges customers to be patient as the new rules come into effect.

“All restaurateurs and food suppliers are trying to do their best,” he added. “If someone doesn’t have something, you really have to understand, it’s not their fault.”

Prices for packaging-related items have also soared, with further increases expected next month.

Spector said banning bags would be the biggest pain to deal with, but banning polystyrene containers is also a challenge.

“What everyone is going to have to understand is when you go to a restaurant and you get four meals or eight meals – and normally it’s neatly packed in a bag – that bag, if it’s a paper bag, if there is liquid, the food may fall out the bottom,” he noted.

There are many alternatives to polystyrene foam, but Spector said supply and demand issues will only get worse when the ban goes into effect.

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