Hartford BYOB: Bring Your Own Bag

Earlier this year, you may have noticed that you now need to pay 10 cents for plastic checkout bags. This 10-cent fee is part of the statewide law meant to reduce plastic bag use. Eventually this 10-cent fee will be replaced by a complete statewide ban in 2021. However, here in Hartford, we’re going above and beyond by moving up the timeline on the plastic bag ban.

When was the Hartford ordinance passed?

On Earth Day (April 2019), Hartford City Councilors Clarke II, Gale, Rosado, Sanchez, Thames, and Winch introduced a new ordinance that would ban single-use plastic checkout bags in order to reduce trash, cut back on pollution, and protect our waters and environment. Following committee discussions, public comment and subsequent revisions, the ordinance was adopted by the Council and signed by Mayor Bronin in June 2019.


Are plastic bag bans a new idea?

Although the ban may seem like a new concept, many retailers have already stopped providing plastic bags. Grocers like Big Y and Stop and Shop have recently switched over to paper bags only, and chains like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods have long avoided offering single-use plastic bags. Please note that these stores may have their own 10-cent fee to reduce over-reliance on paper bags or have an incentive to encourage the use of reusable bags.


How does the local ban tie in with the state law?

The state law allows for plastic bags to be provided with a 10-cent fee. However, in contrast, Hartford will begin to ban plastic bags this month, starting with our largest retailers. By next June, all Hartford retailers, including smaller businesses and restaurants will no longer be able to offer plastic bags. In addition, unlike the statewide 10-cent fee, Hartford’s ordinance allows retailers to offset the costs of alternatives like paper or reusable bags. This mean our local retailers such as small businesses can save on bag costs while also helping the environment at the same time. 


When does the local ban go into effect?

Beginning December 15, 2019, LARGE retailers and food establishments with more than 8,000 sq. ft., like supermarkets, are no longer allowed to provide plastic bags to customers. For our smaller retailers and food establishments, these businesses will need to comply with the ban by June 18, 2020. For specific information on the Hartford Plastic Bag Ban, please read the ordinance.


So what’s next?

As more stores leave behind single-use plastic bags, remember to grab a reusable bag before heading out on your next trip. You’re helping make our community cleaner while also reducing the downstream effects of these bags (like litter and recycling contamination). 

If you’re a retailer or other entity that provides checkout bags, please find information below about the respective state and local legislation.