Bring Your Own Bag Ordinance
Help us reduce waste!
The City of Middletown has developed a Bring Your Own Bag Ordinance to eliminate single use plastic check out bags and encourage consumers to bring their own bags to shop. The Ordinance passed the Common Council on April 1, 2019.
Plastic bags are convenient and cheap, but the environmental costs far exceeds their value. Simple alternatives exist, such as going without a bag for small purchases, or using reusable shopping bags which many stores already provide.
Why is this important
- Plastic bags cause problems with curbside recyclables - Plastic bags don't belong with curbside recycling. Many people still, incorrectly, bag their recyclables and believe they are recyclable with the curbside materials. These bags clog the machinery, causing costly shutdowns and delays. Bags have to be manually removed from all the machinery and then thrown away.
- Plastic bags kill wildlife - Even if we do not litter, plastic bags blow out of trucks and containers. Wild animals eat the bags or they get entangled in the plastic, often causing death.
- Plastic bags are made of non-renewable resources, specifically petroleum. 12 million barrels of oil are used every year just to provide Americans with plastic bags.
- Plastic bags do not biodegrade - It takes hundreds of years for plastic bags to break down and when they do, they just fracture into smaller micro plastics. Animals confuse these small bits of plastic for food.
- Plastic bags cause flooding - Because plastic bags take so long to break down, they clog storm drains and cause infrastructure damage on their way to the ocean.
- Plastic is ending up on our plates - Researchers have found plastics in fish and other animals.
For more information, check out our Bring Your Own Bag Fact Sheet.
What does the Ordinance do?
The ordinance bans single use plastic check out bags from retail establishments and encourages the use of reusable bags. It requires stores to charge 10 cents for alternative paper bags. Charges must be itemized on the receipts; and signs must be posted.
All retail establishments, including but not limited to, retail stores, restaurants, pharmacies, convenience and grocery stores, liquor stores, seasonal and temporary businesses, food trucks and household goods stores must comply. Charities and non profits that distribute food, grocery products, clothing or other household items are exempt.
Bags that are still acceptable include: recyclable paper bags, reusable bags, gift bags, laundry and dry cleaning bags, newspaper bags, produce bags, product bags, product bags or bags solid in packages containing multiple bags.
The 10 cent charge for alternative paper bags does not apply to anyone on a governmental food assistance program.
Why Charge a Fee for Paper Bags?
It is important to not only to remove problematic plastic bags but also to get consumers to reduce their usage of bags in general. We don't want consumers to just switch from using plastic bags to using paper bags. Paper bags have their own environmental problems. Increasing their usage will just mean more paper bags to dispose, increasing solid waste disposal costs. The 10 cent fee is important to give consumers an incentive to remember their bags and to help stores recoup the higher cost of paper bags. It is easy to avoid the fee. Just bring your own bag. If you can, don't take a bag. If you are making many purchases, bring reusable bags with you.
How will this be Implemented?
The City Public Works Department is working with local community organizations to spread the word about this new ordinance. We will be working with stores, schools, community groups, Middletown Area Transit, and anyone else interested in spreading the word. We will have events to educate the public and giveaway bags to people who need them. If you have an event or an idea as to how to reach out to consumers, contact the Middletown Recycling Coordinator. The ordinance will go into effect six months after adoption. Anticipated effective date: October 2019.
Watch this site for more bag information for consumers and businesses.