For a long time, we shoppers have been allowing ourselves to get away with forgetting our reusable shopping bags and asking grocery stores to pass out single-use plastic bags with abandon. Recently, retail chains like Aldi and Trader Joe's have made their own pledges to cut back on plastic usage, but let's be honest, that still won't solve all our plastic problems. That's why eight states around the country have enacted a plastic bag ban or plan to enact them in the next two years.
Ahead, you can find all the details about which states have banned single-use plastic bags, from when the laws were passed and when they'll begin being enforced to which retailers and restaurants will be affected by the ban and if the laws include a paper or reusable plastic bag tax. Though only eight out of the 50 states have the ban right now, this transition toward making shopping more sustainable is sure to continue to catch on around the country.
Always leading the way in progressive change, California was the first state to enact legislation banning single-use plastic bags at large retail stores in August 2014. However, the ban did not go into effect until after the November 2016 election, when Proposition 67 was passed with 52 percent of the vote. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the bill that imposed this statewide ban also requires a fee of at least 10 cents for recycled paper bags, reusable plastic bags, and compostable bags at certain retailers.
Hawaii, too, has a plastic bag ban, but its ban came about in a different way than California's did. Per the NCSL, every one of Hawaii's most populous counties prohibits non-biodegradable plastic bags at grocery store checkouts. Both Kauai County and Maui County enacted bans in January 2011. In January 2014, all businesses in Hawaii County were officially prohibited from distributing single-use plastic bags, according to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald. And, finally, in 2015, Honolulu approved a ban and became the last major county to do so. In 2018, Honolulu took it a step further with Bill 59 (2016) FD1, CD3, which requires businesses to charge a 15-cent fee for each reusable, compostable plastic, or recyclable paper bag, KITV 4 reports.
In March 2019, New York State lawmakers passed a statewide ban on most types of single-use plastic bags from retail sales as part of the state's budget bills. The ban, which went into effect on March 1, 2020, prohibits stores from giving single-use plastic bags to customers, according to the New York Times. The ban does not, however, stop restaurants from using single-use plastic bags for deliveries or ban deli meat-wrapping, garments bags, newspaper bags, or trash/recycling bags bought in bulk. Retailers can now choose to pay a 5-cent fee in order to provide paper bags for customers. These fees will go to the state's Environmental Protection Fund and to supplying consumers with reusable bags. Because Hawaii's plastic bag bans were enacted by individual counties, New York's was technically the second statewide plastic bag ban in the United States.
In 2019, Connecticut enacted legislation to ban single-use plastic bags at retail checkouts starting on July 1, 2021. Before July 2021, though, retailers will be required to collect a 10-cent fee for every single-use plastic bag given at checkout. This fee went into effect on August 1, 2019, according to CT.gov.
Delaware also enacted legislation to ban single-use plastic bags in 2019, but its ban won't go into effect in January 2021. Delaware Online reports that stores that are 7,000 square feet or bigger and stores that have three or more Delaware locations, each at least 3,000 square feet, will be affected by the state's plastic bag ban.
In June 2019, Maine Governor Janet Mills signed a bill that will ban single-use plastic bags in grocery checkout lines by April 22, 2020. In case you don't regularly celebrate and therefore didn't know, that's Earth Day. According to the Associated Press, stores will be allowed to charge at least 5 cents for recyclable paper or reusable plastic bags.
Oregon retail stores and restaurants are ban from providing single-use checkout bags. This ban went into effect on January 1, 2020. For paper bags, reusable plastic bags, and reusable fabric bags, retailers will be required to charge customers at least five cents, per Oregon.gov. Restaurants will still be allowed to provide paper bags without a fee. This ban was approved by 2019 Oregon Legislature, as part of the House Bill 2509, a.k.a the Sustainable Shopping Initiative.
A new law will go into effect in Vermont in July 2020 that prohibits retailers and restaurants from providing customers with single-use carryout bags. Vermont isn't stopping with bags, though. National Geographic reports that the new law also prohibits retailers and restaurants from giving out plastic stirrers, cups, and takeout containers made from expanded polystyrene. This comprehensive law was signed by Vermont Governor Phil Scott in June 2019.