Single-Use Plastic Bag Ban

All retailers are prohibited from providing customers with single-use plastic carryout bags.

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An Ordinance passed by the Hilton Head Island Town Council affects all grocery and convenience stores, restaurants and other retail establishments.

The goal behind the single-use plastic carryout bag law is to improve the Town's environment, our ocean and waterways, and to protect our marine life. Marine birds and sea turtles, for instance, mistake plastic bag pieces as food. Plastics can cause blockages in the animal's digestive tract and subsequently lead to death.

Businesses are encouraged to make reusable bags available for sale or offer recyclable paper carryout bags for distribution

  • If you or an organization you are a member of hosts any event on Town property, you're prohibited from providing single-use plastic carryout bags at the function.

As defined in the Ordinance, single-use plastic carryout bags include compostable and biodegradable bags but does not include reusable carryout bags. Reusable bags are made of cloth, other washable fabric or durable materials specifically designed and manufactured for multiple-use.

Bags exempt from the Ordinance include:

  • 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.

Businesses that fail to comply may face penalties - a written warning at first, followed by fines of up $500 for repeated violations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Most business establishments are subject to the 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.

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.

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.

Businesses are encouraged to provide customers with reusable carryout bags or recyclable paper bags.

Some stores may charge a minimal fee for their bags, so be prepared to pay.

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.

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.

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.

The Ordinance prohibits organizations that host events on Town-owned property from distributing single-use plastic bags at their events.

Remember to take your own reusable bags with you when you go shopping. Encourage family members and friends to do the same.


Questions?

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