New Jersey Governor signs recycled content bill into law

Media Contacts
Alex Truelove

If implemented correctly, the new law will make New Jersey an East Coast leader for reducing virgin plastic


TRENTON, N.J. – New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill into law on Tuesday that increases the recycled content of plastics and other products. The bill requires increasing the percentage of post-consumer recycled content gradually to up to 50% in a variety of packaging products, including plastic containers, plastic beverage containers, plastic and paper bags, plastic trash bags and glass containers. 

The bill would require post-consumer recycled content in a variety of packaging products. After two years, rigid plastic containers and bottles will be required to respectively meet 10% and 15% post-consumer recycled content and increase that percentage until reaching 50%. The legislation also sets content standards and benchmarks for glass containers, paper and plastic carryout bags, and plastic trash bags and bans plastic packing peanuts. There are similar laws in East Coast states, such as Connecticut, Maryland, and Maine, and West Coast states, such as California and Washington.

The new law aims to improve New Jersey’s abysmal plastics recycling rate, which hovers around 9%. In recent years, the state, along with the rest of the United States, has faced increasing challenges to create profitable recycling markets after China stopped taking unclean recycling waste streams, which has worsened the ongoing impacts of plastics pollution on New Jersey’s environment. 

Doug O’Malley, Director of Environment New Jersey, released the following statement:

“New Jersey’s communities, shorelines, and parks are facing a severe plastic pollution crisis. Of course, we can’t recycle our way out of this crisis. We need to use less virgin plastic and this recycled content bill will set a national standard that will move us toward using more recycled content – and not virgin plastic – for plastic containers. We thank Gov. Murphy for signing this legislation and supporting initiatives to reduce plastic pollution.

Corporate pledges to use recycled materials aren’t enough. State legislation like New Jersey’s new law is essential to support recycling markets so that virgin single-use plastic can be eliminated from the waste stream, keeping it out of landfills, incinerators, and off the Jersey Shore.  As they did with the plastic carryout bag ban, other states are considering similar legislation to follow New Jersey’s lead. A New Jersey recycled content law will set the standard for recycling across the East Coast. 

“The public does their best with recycling every week with their blue bins – it’s time that producers step up to the plate and use more recycled content in their products. We have a recycling crisis in New Jersey and this legislation will create a more robust recycling rate and cut down on new plastic pollution: this bill is a win for wildlife over waste.”

Alex Truelove, PIRG Zero Waste Director added:

“New Jersey continues to lead state efforts to address the problems caused by waste and single-use plastic. I’m happy to see the Garden State now adopt minimum content standards for our recyclable products, both taking a lead on the East Coast and raising the standard alongside our friends in California and Washington that have passed similar bills. Recycling more recyclable products is a no-brainer. In the near future, let’s hope other states along the Atlantic follow suit.”