Most Commonly Used Terms in Plastic Bag Bans

Most Commonly Used Terms in Plastic Bag Bans

In researching numerous plastic bag bans, I have found that certain terms are placed in almost every ordinance. I thought it would be interesting to list here the Most Commonly Used Terms and a definition or explanation of each.

These words or phrases are in no certain order. However, I have started with the one that most ordinances are about.

Most Commonly Used Terms (MCUT)

Single-Use Plastic Bag: (also referred to as plastic checkout bag or carryout bag)
A single-use lightweight plastic bag with a maximum of 2.25 mils in thickness that is provided to a customer at the point of sale.  Usually designed by the manufacturer with the intent of 0ne-time use, however, most could be used several times.

Recyclable Paper Bag:  In most ordinances, a paper bag that meets the following criteria.
(1)  contains no old growth fiber; (2) is one hundred percent (100%) recyclable overall; (3) contains a minimum of forty percent (40%) post-consumer recycled material.  Some ordinances require specific labeling on the bags along other requirements.

Reusable Bag:  Typically, defined as a bag with handles that is specifically designed and manufactured for multiple reuse and meets all of the following requirements:
(1) has a minimum lifetime of 125 uses, which means the capability of carrying a minimum of 22 pounds 125 times over a distance of at least 175 feet;
(2) has a minimum volume of 15 liters;
(3) is machine washable or is made from a material that can be cleaned or disinfected;
(4) does not contain lead, cadmium, or any other heavy metal in toxic amounts;
(5) has printed on the bag, or on a tag that is permanently affixed to the bag, the name of the manufacturer, the location (country) where the bag was manufactured, a statement that the bag does not contain lead, cadmium, or any other heavy metal in toxic amounts, and the percentage of post-consumer recycled material used;
(6) if made of plastic, is a minimum of at least 2.25 mils thick.”

Retail Establishment: Usually means (1) any commercial business facility that sells goods directly to the ultimate consumer; (2) that sells a line of dry grocery, canned goods, or nonfood items and some perishable items; (3) A drug store, pharmacy, supermarket, grocery store, convenience food store, food mart, or other entity engaged in the retail sale of goods that includes milk, bread, soda, and snack foods; (4) any retail establishment

Prepared Food:  Means foods or beverages which are prepared on the premises by cooking, chopping, slicing, mixing, or freezing, and which require no further preparation to be consumed. Prepared Food does not include any raw, uncooked meat product or fruits or vegetables which are chopped, sliced, or mixed.

Customer:  Any person purchasing goods from a retail establishment or store.

Of course, there are many more terms in some ordinances.  Watch for "Comparison of Ordinances" coming soon.


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