N.J. Bill Calls for Banning Plastic Grocery Bags

New Jersey would become the first state to ban plastic grocery bags—widely considered damaging to the environment—under legislation proposed Wednesday by a pair of Democratic Assemblymen.

Under the measure, retail stores with 10,000 sq. ft. of space or more would be required to cut their use of plastic bags in half by Dec. 31, 2009 and eliminate their use entirely by Dec. 31, 2010, according to the bill's sponsors.

During the phase out, the stores would be required to set up bins to allow customers to return used plastic bags as part of an in-store recycling program.

In March, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to ban use of plastic bags at large supermarkets. In July, California enacted a law that requires large stores to take back plastic bags and encourage their reuse. And the New York City Council also has introduced legislation calling for the recycling of plastic bags.