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Single-Use Plastic Bag FAQ's for Businesses

The Town of Hilton Head Island has adopted a Single-Use Plastic Bag Ordinance, which will go into effect November 1, 2018. The Ordinance bans the use of certain single-use plastic carryout bags.

What businesses are affected by the Ordinance?
Most business establishments are subject to the new Ordinance, including grocery stores, department stores, hardware stores, liquor stores, convenience stores, farmers markets, restaurants, gift shops, and other retail stores or vendors. There is no exemption for small retailers or any business distributing items in single-use plastic bags.
What bags are restricted by the Ordinance?
Single-use plastic bags considered disposable and not reusable are prohibited. This includes all disposable single-use plastic bags provided at checkout or point-of-sale.
What exemptions are allowed?
The following types of plastic bags are allowed for the following uses:
  • Laundry dry cleaning bags.
  • Meat, produce and bakery bags.
  • Newspaper and door-hanger bags.
  • Pet waste, yard waste and garbage bags.
  • Bags provided by pharmacists or veterinarians to contain prescription drugs or other medical necessities, as required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • Bags for items sold in bulk such as bulk food and bulk hardware items.
  • Bags or plastic wraps for flowers, potted plants or items where dampness may be an issue.
  • Bags of any type that a customer brings to the store for his or her own use to carry away goods that are not placed in a bag provided by the store.
  • Bags comprised of recyclable plastic, with a minimum thickness of 2.25 mils.
Is there an exemption for clothing stores, restaurants, food vendors or resort operations?
No. Clothing stores, restaurants, food vendors and resort operations must follow the same requirements as retailers.
What type of bag is considered reusable?
A reusable carryout bag is a carryout bag that is specifically designed and manufactured for multiple uses. Language describing the bag's ability to be reused and recycled should be highly visible on the exterior of the bag. The bag should have a handle and be made out of cloth, other washable fabric, or other durable materials, whether woven or non-woven, or recyclable plastic, with a minimum thickness of two and one-quarter (2.25) mils. Handles are not required for carryout bags constructed out of recyclable paper with a height of less than fourteen (14) inches and width of less than eight (8) inches.
Can retailers provide plastic bags for meat, produce, bulk foods and other items?
Yes. Plastic bags that are used inside stores for bulk foods and other items, for meats and produce, unwrapped bakery goods, flowers and other similar items will still be allowed. Only single-use plastic bags used at retail checkouts are prohibited.
What is the purpose of this Ordinance?
The purpose of this law is to improve our environment by curbing the use of plastic bags and making a shift to reusable bags. Plastic bags can escape into our waterways and the ocean, where they are harmful to animals. They break down into smaller pieces of plastic that enter the food chain of animals and eventually that of humans.
What standards must I abide by?
The Town encourages business establishments to sell or otherwise provide customers with reusable carryout bags or recyclable paper bags.
How will this Ordinance be enforced?
Code Enforcement Officers with the Town of Hilton Head Island will conduct checks to ensure that business establishments comply with the law. If a business is found to be out of compliance, the Town may issue a notice of violation or a citation.
What is the Town's plan for informing customers of the Ordinance?
Information is posted on the Town's website. The Town of Hilton Head Island will continue to inform businesses and citizens about the Ordinance through social media, news media and other means.
Are retailers allowed to use up existing stocks of plastic bags after November 1, 2018?
No. The Ordinance was adopted on January 9, 2018, allowing several months for affected retailers to plan for the transition. We encourage businesses to use up existing stock of single-use plastic bags. Retailers that are a part of a chain should work with their corporate offices on a transition plan.
Are there any differences between the County and Municipal Ordinances?
The County Ordinance and the Municipal Ordinances are uniform in their restrictions and exemptions regarding single-use plastic bags.
How should I get ready for the Ordinance going into effect on November 1, 2018?
To prepare, please carefully review the Ordinance. A copy of the Ordinance is available on our website at www.hiltonheadislandsc.gov.
Who may I call for additional information?
Sally Krebs email icon, Sustainable Practices Coordinator, at 843-341-4690 or Carolyn Grant email icon, Communications Director, at 843-341-4618. They are available as a resource to you to answer your questions and to help your business comply with the new law.

Printable Version of FAQ's pdf icon

View the Ordinance - Regulations & Requirements Relating to the Use of Single-Use Plastic Bags pdf icon

Single-Use Plastic Bag Ban Flyer pdf icon