NJ stores dealing with basket thefts after bag ban

Supermarkets in New Jersey are dealing with an expensive problem since a ban on paper and plastic bags went into effect a few months ago.

Multiple stores say people are walking out with their items in plastic shopping baskets.  Many are not even bothering to return them, according to USA Today.

Employees say that it's because shoppers are still having a hard time remembering to bring their own reusable bags with them to the store.

In a statement to FOX5NY.com, Stop & Shop said:  "Like other retailers across the state, we have experienced theft of our handheld shopping baskets - an unintended consequence of the ban on plastic and paper bags. We continue to encourage and remind shoppers to bring their own bags, as well as offer our own durable and affordable 2 for $1 reusable bags in store."

Some grocery stores are ordering more baskets while others are considering doing away with them altogether.  The baskets can cost $5 to $10 apiece.

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Most stores sell reusable shopping bags at the checkout registers but some customers appear to want to avoid the charge.

Gov. Phil Murphy signed one of the strictest bag bans in the country into law in 2020.  Enforcement of the ban went into effect on May 4, 2022.

The law requires a warning for a first offense, up to $1,000 for a second offense, and up to $5,000 for a third or subsequent offense.

NJ bag ban law

Some Republican lawmakers and industry groups opposed the ban, saying it will hurt small businesses that are already reeling from the pandemic.

Environmental groups praised the law. The New Jersey Sierra Club director called it a "major environmental victory."

New Jersey joins eight states to ban plastic bags. While some states impose a fee on paper bags and Hawaii has a de facto ban on bags with less than 40% recycled material, New Jersey lawmakers say it's the first state with a paper bag ban.

The state also only allows plastic straws to be provided upon request of the consumer.  That rule went into effect on Nov. 4, 2021.