Single-Use Plastic Carry-Out Bag Ordinance

On June 20, 2022, the Easttown Township Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance banning distribution and use of single-use plastic carry-out bags in businesses starting on January 01, 2023.  The use of single-use plastic bags has severe environmental impacts, including entering local waterways, littering the environment and causing harm to wildlife, becoming stuck in or upon natural resources and public property, and blocking storm drains.  Shopping with reusable, compostable, or recyclable paper bags can help reduce waste and litter to keep our Township streets and waterways clean.

A list of vendors of compliant bags can be found above, and frequently asked questions appear below.

Effective Notice - Ordinance 451-22

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are the key reasons behind the Township's ban on distribution and use of single-use plastic carry-out bags?
    - To reduce litter.  If not disposed of properly, these bags litter our streets, waterways, commercial corridors, and adversely affect marine life and birds.
    - To save money and keep staff safe.  Plastic bags are not recyclable curbside, yet often placed in recycling bins.  Once at the recycling facility, the bags get caught in the equipment.  This is dangerous for recycling center staff and costs the Township money.  Each year, plastic bags account for hours of lost staff time at our recycling facility.
    - To make the Township cleaner, reduce waste, and save taxpayer dollars.  No bag option is without impact, so reducing waste means cutting down on the use of paper bags as well.  We urge all retailers to encourage their customers to shop with reusable bags.
  2. When does the Ordinance go into effect?  
    All business establishments must be compliant by January 01, 2023.
  3. Which businesses does this affect?
    The ban will affect all commercial establishments in Easttown Township that make bags available for carryout and/or delivery items such as food, clothing, home goods, etc.  These businesses include indoor and outdoor establishments that offer food or other products to the public for sale and that generate a sales tax or use tax.  Among them are:
    - Drug Stores
    - Pharmacies
    - Grocery Stores/Supermarkets
    - Farmers Markets
    - Convenience Food Stores
    - Food Marts
    - Restaurants, take-out food establishments
    - Hardware Stores
    - Clothing Stores
    - Stores selling non-perishable items
  4. How can a business make this transition?
    - Place the Township's informational poster in your storefront windows and at the point-of-sale. (Signage coming soon...)
    - Make compliant reusable and paper bags available for sale.
    - Establish your business policy and price for providing compliant/reusable bags for customers who do not bring their own.
    - Adjust cash register/point-of-sale settings for the bag fee to be displayed separately on the customer receipt.
    - Keep checking back to the FAQ page for updated questions and answers.
  5. What is actually banned?  
    Single-Use Plastic Carry-Out Bags.  This includes all bags regardless of their thickness.  These bags are primarily created through a "blown film extrusion" process, which is how almost all plastic bags using plastic film are created.
  6. What kind of bags can businesses provide?  
    Businesses can still provide reusable bags and compliant paper bags that meet certain criteria. For a list of vendors that provide compliant bags, click HERE.
    A. Reusable bags are permitted if they are made of cloth or another machine-washable fabric, polypropylene or another material that is specifically designed and manufactured for multiple uses.
    B. Compliant paper bags are permitted if they:  (i) contain a minimum of 40% postconsumer recycled material and display the words "recyclable" and/or "reusable" in a highly visible manner on the outside of the bag, and (ii) can be composted.
  7. Does the 40% recycled content apply to all paper bags?  
    YES - the rule applies to all paper bags of all sizes.
  8. Are there any exemptions?  
    YES - they include bags used inside commercial establishments by a customer to deliver perishable items to the point-of-sale at that establishment.  exempted bags include:
    - a bag used to package bulk items such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains or candy;
    - a bag used to contain or wrap meats or fish, or to contain unwrapped prepared foods or bakery goods;
    - a bag used solely to contain live animals, such as fish or insects sold in a pet store; and/or
    - a bag sold in packaging containing multiple bags and intended for use as food storage bags, garbage bags or pet waste bags, and packaged at the time of manufacture of the bag.
    Commercial establishments may request an exemption until July 01, 2023 from the Township Ordinance due to an "undue hardship" caused by the Ordinance.  Exemptions may be granted if the commercial establishment demonstrates that it has a unique circumstance or situation such that there are no reasonable alternatives to the use of Single-Use Plastic Carry-Out Bags.
  9. What are the signage requirements?
    Beginning January 01, 2023, and for a minimum of six (6) months thereafter, commercial establishments shall post at all points-of-sale conspicuous signage informing customers that single-use plastic carry-out bags and non-recycled paper bags will no longer be provided by the establishment as of the date the prohibition begins; explaining what types of bags and purchases are impacted, and providing any other information the Township may require by regulation.
  10. Do I have to get rid of my existing stock of plastic bags?
    You must use all existing single-use plastic carry-out bags and non-compliant paper bag stock by January 01, 2023.  Chain stores with outlets outside of the Township can ship their bag inventory to those outlets.  Retailers may also consider donating their remaining stock to nonprofit reuse centers or business that reside in boroughs, cities or townships that do not have a plastic bag ordinance.
  11. Can businesses charge customers for compliant bags?
    YES - businesses can decide whether to provide compliant paper bags for free or for a $0.15 per bag cost.  Businesses may keep the $0.15 per bag cost they charge customers.  we urge businesses to encourage their customers to bring their own reusable bags when they shop.
  12. Why don't businesses convert to using biodegradable plastic bags?
    They are up to 20% to 100% more expensive than petrochemical plastics, and although they are marketed as more eco-friendly solutions able to break down into harmless material more quickly than traditional plastics, they do not.
    In a recent study published in Environmental Science and Technology, researchers put supposedly eco-friendly bags made from various organic and plastic materials and sourced from UK stores to the test. After being buried for three years in garden soil, submerged in ocean water, exposed to open light and air, or stashed in a laboratory, none of the bags broke down completely in all environments. In fact, the biodegradable bags that had been left under water in a marina could still hold a full load of groceries.
  13. Milk, produce, meat and cold products need plastic bags to protect them from sweating.  Will I still be able to get plastic bags for these items?
    Please see Question 8, above.  Bags used inside commercial establishments to move items by a customer to the point-of-sale including produce and meat are exempt from this ordinance.
  14. I take my single-use plastic bags back to the grocery store to discard in established recycle bins.  Doesn't this compensate for the environmental impact of a single-use bag?
    NO - the reality is that approximately 3-10% of bags placed in recycle bins are actually recycled.  The reason is that it is far cheaper to create a new single-use plastic bag than to recycle it.  The ready supply of fracking gas used to manufacture plastic bags makes virgin plastic cheaper and more readily available than recycled plastic bags.
  15. Who do I contact with questions about this Ordinance?  
    Questions should be directed to the Township Office at 610-687-3000 or via email at easttown@easttown.org.