NJ’s ban on single-use plastics launched in May 2022

Many NJ residents have a surplus of reusable bags from stores

Union County has a pilot program to repurpose donated bags

Well over a year into the ban on single-use plastics across New Jersey, many households have been faced with a mountain of reusable bags.

Some have forgotten their own bags while shopping and bought new ones to carry items home. For others, grocery delivery and pickup services under current state requirements provide new reusable bags with each order.

At the same time, food pantries and food banks have faced difficulty keeping up with the need for reusable bags when distributing groceries to clients, under New Jersey's “Get Past Plastic” law.

(Union County) reusable bag collection
(Union County)

The Union County Board of County Commissioners have announced a new program that hopes to repurpose those extra cloth-based bags throughout local communities.

As of this summer, the county has collaborated with Westfield, the Housing Authority of the City of Elizabeth (HACE) and GOATote, Inc. on a bag collection.

Drop-off points and times are as follows:

(Union County) reusable bag collection
(Google Maps)

Westfield Conservation Center, 1300 Lamberts Mill Road, Westfield

  • Now through Oct. 22: Thursdays/Fridays, 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Saturdays/Sundays, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • From Oct. 23 until Dec. 21, the center will be open daily:
    M-F, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Saturdays/Sundays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
(Union County) reusable bag collection
33 Cherry Street, Elizabeth (Google Maps)

Farley Towers, 33 Cherry Street, Elizabeth

  • Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Residents from any municipality in Union County can bring their gently-used, cloth reusable bags to either location.

GOATote, Inc. has begun collecting the bags, cleaning and sanitizing them and will deliver them to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey in Hillside.

From there, bags will be distributed to food pantries in-need.

(Union County) reusable bag collection
Westfield bags dropoff (Google Maps)


The program was started to ensure that reusable bags are truly being reused and made available to those who genuinely need them — and only accepts bags in usable condition (no rips or other damages).


(Union County) reusable bag collection
Elizabeth bags dropoff (Google Maps)


“The County of Union is taking a proactive step towards sustainability and we aim to make a meaningful impact by repurposing these bags and ensuring they reach those in need,” Commissioner Chairman Sergio Granados said in a written statement.

Granados said they hope the program will be a model for other counties and municipalities around the state.

For more details on Union County recycling programs and locations, check the Bureau of Recycling and Planning website or call the Union County Recycling Hotline at 908-654-9889.

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