If a plastic bag ban comes to your town, what will you do? Here is a checklist for success.
- Get involved from the start. When City Council starts discussions about a bag ban, go to the meetings and give your input. Pro or Con, the Council needs businesses to voice their opinion.
- Get a copy of the ordinance. Become very familiar with the ordinance and ask questions for clarification about any section or statement that you aren't quite sure about. Make sure you understand the language, the definition of terms, and exactly what is allowed and what isn't under the law.
- Meet with your staff. Explain in detail about the ordinance. Teach your staff to be able to explain the bag ban ordinance to your customers. Your customers will want and need to know how the ban affects them and how you will enforce the ban. It's a good idea to also explain the penalty that your business will be hit with if an employee doesn't follow the law.
- Post notices for your customers. Post the precise date that the ban ordinance will begin. List the type bag(s) that will be prohibited and the type that will be allowed. If there is a fee to be charged, be explicit about the amount of the fee and which bag(s) the fee will be applied to. For example, many ordinances exempt paper bags that are 1/8 barrel or less in size.
- Order compliant bags. Again, know what the ordinance allows and disallows: paper bags, recycled bags, paper bags containing 40% post-consumer recycled content, plastic bags larger than 20" and over 2.25 mil thickness? The last thing you need is to buy a supply of bags that aren't allowed.
- Train your staff. Cashiers must know how to handle reusable bags; how to pack them quickly and efficiently; what foodstuffs are packed together and what is not. See: Reusable Bag Training Plan. Other employees must be trained as well. Train the meat dept. to endure that fresh and frozen meat is wrapped to prevent leakage which will contaminate reusable bags and other foodstuffs.
- Take care of miscellaneous items.
- Program cash registers to charge the fee, if applicable
- Re-organize cashier area for efficiency. Make a place for paper bags and/or reusable bags. Make a place for customers to bag their own groceries. Many customers will want this option.
- In your office, set up record-keeping to track bag sales, fee exemptions, etc. if applicable.
With a little work in advance, you and your staff will transition to comply with the ordinance with ease - and so will your customers.
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