March Sees Four Plastic Bag Bans Take Effect

March Sees Four Plastic Bag Bans Take Effect

Bans Passed In 2012
Feb. 8, 2013 (PBBR) - In the month of March, four plastic bag bans will take effect. The bans were passed in 2012 and municipalities will start to enforce the ordinances.

Austin, Texas
Austin, Texas will probably be the most watched. Austin is the state's capital with a population of almost 800,000.

Austin's single-use bag ordinance bans both plastic and paper bags. The City Council, after a late-night meeting, passed the ban in a vote of 7 to 0 on August 1st last year. The ban affects all retailers and business establishments in the city.

All bags aren't banned. The City allows the following options:

  • Plastic Bags: 4 mil thickness or greater with handles
  • Paper bags: 40% recycled content with handles
  • Cloth or another type of reusable bag made of durable materials, also with handles

At the time the ordinance was passed, some were questioning if there was a 4 mil plastic bag made in the US. Also, the question arose as to whether a certain forestry certification should be required for the paper bags.

Well, the 4 mil plastic bag is available and the forestry certification was tabled till a later date. See: What Kind of Forest Does Your Paper Bag Come From?

Get more details at the City of Austin's website.

Portland, Oregon
The first phase of Portland, Oregon's expanded plastic bag ban goes into effect on March 1, 2013. This phase will cover retail establishments and food providers with stores larger than 10,000 square feet.

Portland's ban on plastic bags was passed on July 21, 2011 and the ban took effect last year. However, on Nov. 18, 2012, Portland's City Council voted to expand the ban to include all retailers and restaurants including food carts and farmers markets.

The existing ban only affected food stores and supermarkets, about 200 stores. The new, expanded plastic bag ban will affect around 5,000 retailers.

Issaquah, Washington
The City of Issaquah, Washington passed a plastic bag ban on June 12, 2012. The ordinance affects all retailers but is phased in with large retailers beginning March 1st. Small retailers will have until March 1, 2014 before they are affected. The ordinance defines large retailers as those with 7500 square feet or larger retail space.

The City's ordinance also requires a five cents charge for paper bags that are commonly known as 1/8 bags (882 cubic inches or larger). Paper bags also must be made of a minimum of 40% post-consumer recycled material and the bags must have a label stating that fact.

Issaquah joins other Washington cities of Bellingham, Mukilteo, Seattle, and Bainbridge Island in passing ordinances to ban plastic bags. Thurston County, home of the Washington State Capital is also considering a plastic bag ban.

Mamaroneck, New York
The Village of Mamaroneck, NY passed a plastic bag ban last July. Known as the "Retail Checkout Bags" ordinance, it takes effect on March 31st. The ordinance affects all retailers in the village.

Just as Issaquah's ban, the ordinance requires paper bags be 100% recyclable overall with a minimum 40% post-consumer recycled content and displays the words “Reusable” and “Recyclable” on the outside of the bag.

The Village of Mamaroneck is actually a part of the city of Rye, New York. The city of Rye passed a plastic bag ban in December, 2011. Both are located in Westchester County, NY.


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