Single–Use Bag Legislation…The Year in Review

It was seven years ago that the first bag legislation was introduced. We’ve seen a lot of change over seven years. 2012 was a busy year for local bag ordinances; both in California and around the world.

Here are some stats for California:

  • 20 new bag ordinances adopted in 2012, covering 41 cities and counties
  • That’s double the number of bag ordinances adopted in 2011
  • Stores in at least 56 cities and counties will be affected by bag legislation by Earth Day, 2013

The new year will see many ordinances approved during 2012 require compliance in January 2013. These cities/counties include:

  • Alameda County, CA
  • Laguna Beach, CA
  • Pasadena, CA (2nd part of their phase-in program)
  • The Big Island of Hawaii
  • Village of Mamaroneck, NY
  • Barrington, RI
  • Corvallis, OR
  • Laguna Vista, TX
  • Mukilteo, WA

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

Bag Ban Confusion?

There seems to be a new single-use bag ban or ordinance every day, increasing the number of cities that have adopted single use bag bans this year to 42, and the total number of single use bag bans in the U.S. to 79 – nearly two-thirds of them in California.

In addition, Los Angeles – the nation’s second largest city, with a population of 4 million – is set to join that group. Two other communities Washington, D.C., and Montgomery County, Md. have fees on single use bags handed out at carryout.

Single use bag bans are now in place in 5 of the 29 largest cities in the United States – San Francisco, San Jose, Austin, Seattle and Portland. The nation’s fourth-largest city, Houston, is currently considering a single use bag ban proposal.

Also weighing a decision on single use bags is Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, who has a petition urging him not to sign a bill that that passed in the legislature earlier this summer that would mandate single use plastic bag recycling and bar all cities in the state except for Chicago from banning single use plastic carryout bags.

But don’t worry if you’re confused about what’s banned and where, because the details are indeed confusing. These bans, fees and taxes are a patchwork of regulations, with differing standards. It doesn’t matter which side of the issue you stand on, the fact is new single use bag regulations are popping up everywhere, and WE ARE HERE TO HELP.  Our retail packaging specialists can help you navigate these regulations 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

Look for our next blog when we dive into the qualifications of a single use bag vs. reusable bag!

Austin Passes Bag Ban

Austin, Texas has become the latest large American city to adopt a ban on certain types of plastic and paper bags—a ban that is one of the broadest of its kind in the country.

After years of back-and-forth between the two sides of the argument, Austin’s City Council unanimously passed the ordinance on March 1st and it will become effective in March 2013.

To comply with the ordinance, customers will be allowed to use:

  • Reusable bags from home or purchasable plastic bags that are at least four millimeters thick with handles.
  • Paper bags made of recycled material with handles.
  • Other reusable bags at prices set by retailers.

While broad, the bag ban will not entirely do away with retail checkout counter bags.  Plastic bags used at dry cleaners, paper bags used in restaurants and disposable bags provided by local food bank will not be effected by the ban.

Additionally, the council made some key changes to the proposal before passing it. These include the elimination of a disposable bag transaction fee as well as doing away with a one-year transitional period.

The ban also comes with a $1.5-2 million educational campaign to promote knowledge on the topic and raise awareness on what Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell sees as something that is “harmful to our environment and to our economy.”

According to Leffingwell, Austin residents use about 263 million plastic bags every year, forcing the city to pay more than $800,000 per year in pollution and litter management costs.

“The bags litter our rivers and streams. They are harmful to our wildlife—and because most of them aren’t biodegradable—they are around forever,” said Leffingwell.

This isn’t the first time Austin has tried to pass legislature to limit the use of single-use bags. In 2007, City Council ordered an evaluation on strategies for limiting the use of non-compostable plastic bags and promoting reusable ones, and in 2008, a voluntary initiative was instituted to cut the number of plastic bags that flowed into the waste stream by 50 percent, but those efforts struggled to take off.

Several members of the public weighed in at stakeholder meetings and public hearings between August 2011 and March 1 when a vote was taken, and the ban was ultimately passed.

Here’s an infograph outlying what exactly this ban means for you:

For more information on the ban and a link to actual legislation, visit the City of Austin, Texas’s website.

If you have any questions about this ban or any other bag legislation around the country, feel free to call us at 1-888-429-5673. Our bag specialists are qualified to explain how this ban affects you, and help you find bags that are in compliance with your local legislation.

Source: Mitzie Stelte, Impact News, Central Austin

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