Bag Legislation Activity as of Mid-2013

States are continuing to consider strategies to reduce the number of plastic carry-out bags from grocery stores and other retail outlets. Some states are targeting paper bags as well.

Thus far in 2013, eight states—Arkansas, California, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington—are considering banning single-use plastic bags. In Florida the ban would not prohibit customers from bringing their own bags of any sort. Florida and Washington have proposed legislation that would create rules for localities that choose to impose a ban or fee on plastic bags. California’s proposed ban including paper and other single-use bags under SB405 was taken to the Senate floor and voted on May 30. The vote was 18-17; however, the bill did not make it off the Senate floor because they needed 21 votes. This is the second time California has tried to pass a state wide ban and has failed. However, the state of California does have more than 75 communities covered under ordinances that determine the bag you use. You can use www.baglaws.com to see which regulations pertain to your store locations.

Eight states—Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington—have proposed a fee or tax on the distribution of bags which a shopper will have to pay, either directly or indirectly. A few of Maryland’s proposed bills would require a 5 cent credit for each bag a customer provides themselves, while Rhode Island would require a ten cent fee even for a recyclable paper bag. Hawaii would impose fees ranging from 5 cents to 25 cents if the state finds that distribution of single-use bags has not decreased 75 percent by a specified date. Depending on the state, the revenue would go to state parks, school districts, community improvement trusts or other public programs.

Recycling Programs and Requirements

States have continued to propose and enact legislation relating to labeling, recycling, and reusing plastic bags. In 2010, Delaware enacted an At-Store Recycling Program. The legislation encourages the use of reusable bags, requires stores to establish an at-store recycling program that provides an opportunity for customers of the store to return clean plastic bags, requires that plastic carry-out bags display a recycling message and provides fines and penalties for noncompliance. Illinois passed similar legislation, The Plastic Bag and Film Recycling Act, in 2012.

There is a lot of legislation being considered in several states for 2013. Make sure to keep checking our website www.baglaws.com for updates on single use bag legislation that is pending or being implemented. Our retail packaging specialists stay on top of the ever changing market conditions. Let us help you navigate bag legislation in the municipalities you sell into and select the best packaging for your stores. We hope that you will contact us by phone at 888-429-5673 or via email at baglaws@swalter.com.