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More States Ban Plastic Grocery Bags

During the past month, the governors of Vermont, Maine, Oregon, Delaware and Connecticut signed legislation banning single-use plastic bags and a few months earlier, on April 22, New York’s governor signed similar legislation.

  • New York’s plastic bag ban is scheduled to take effect on March 1, 2020. The law bans most single-use plastic carry-out bags provided by grocery and other stores unless they are exempted. Exemptions include bags used to wrap uncooked meat, fish or poultry; bags to hold food prepared to order; bags used by a customer for bulk items (e.g., fruits and vegetables); bags for carryout or delivered food; and food storage bags. The legislation also allows individual counties to charge five cents for paper bags.

  • Maine’s H.P. 1115 (LD 1352) bans retail establishments from providing customers with most single-use plastic bags, effective January 1, 2020. The legislation lists a number of exemptions, such as bags for prescription medication, bags for use within a store to package loose items, and dry-cleaning bags. Retail establishments may provide a recycled paper bag of reusable plastic bag for a fee of at least five cents per bag.

  • Oregon’s HB 2509 bans retail establishments and restaurants from providing customers single-use checkout bags. Certain bags are exempted, such as bags for produce, meat, fish and dry cleaning. Stores may provide paper checkout bags, reusable fabric checkout bags, or reusable plastic checkout bags for at least five cents each. The ban becomes effective in January 2020.

  • Vermont’s Act No. 69 (S.113) prohibits stores and food establishments from providing single-use plastic bags, effective July 1, 2020. Pharmacy bags for prescription medication; bags used inside a store to package loose items, frozen foods, meat, fish or flowers; and dry-cleaning bags are exempted. The legislation also prohibits food service establishments from providing single-use plastic straws unless requested and bans the sale of expanded polystyrene food service products.

  • Delaware’s HB 130 bans bags that are “made from non-compostable plastic and not specifically designed and manufactured to be reusable” effective January 1, 2021. Exceptions include plastic bags to wrap damp items like frozen foods, bags to transport chemicals, and dry-cleaning bags.

Single-use plastic grocery bag are currently banned in California and Hawaii. California has had a statewide plastic bag ban in place since late 2016 and, plastic grocery bags are banned in all counties in Hawaii.

© 2020 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume IX, Number 190


About this Author

Keller and Heckman offers global food and drug services to its clients. Our comprehensive and extensive food and drug practice is one of the largest in the world. We promote, protect, and defend products made by the spectrum of industries regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Commission and Member States authorities in the European Union (EU) and similar authorities throughout the world. The products we help get to market include foods, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, veterinary products, dietary supplements, and cosmetics. In addition...