[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Council of the Town of Westerly 4-22-2019 by Ch. No. 1954. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Single-use plastic bags are often discarded into the environment, which ends up polluting our waterways, oceans, streams, lakes, ponds, endangering marine life and causing unsightly litter, and getting trapped in our sewer systems. It can take up to 20 years for a plastic bag to decompose. It has been determined that plastic bags pose a risk to the environment, particularly to wildlife and marine animals so as to constitute a public nuisance.
The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this ordinance, shall have the following meanings:
- CARRYOUT BAG
- A thin film plastic bag of a thickness less than four mils with handles provided to a customer by an establishment and is used to transport merchandise from said establishment. Carryout bags do not include bags without handles used to contain dry cleaning, newspapers, small bags to contain fish, meats, produce or other products selected by the consumer to deliver items to the point of sale.
- DOUBLE-OPENING PLASTIC BAG
- Any thin plastic bag with a double opening (top and bottom) to protect clothing or other items for transport.
- Any business selling goods, articles, or personal services to the public, including restaurants.
- PLASTIC BARRIER BAG
- Any thin plastic bag with a single opening used to:
- A. Transport fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, small hardware items or other items selected by customers to the point of sale.
- B. Contain or wrap flowers, potted plants, or other items where damage to the good or contamination of other goods placed together in the same bag may be a problem.
- C. Contain or wrap fresh or frozen foods, meat(s) or fish, whether prepackaged or not.
- D. Contain unwrapped prepared foods or bakery goods.
- E. Provide protection for newspapers and other printed material delivered to consumers.
- RECYCLABLE PAPER BAG
- A bag that is:
- RETAIL SALES
- The transfer to a customer of goods in exchange for payment occurring in retail stores, sidewalk sales, farmers markets, flea markets and restaurants. The term "retail sales" does not include the sale of goods at yard sales, tag sales, garage sales, other sales by residents at their home, and sales by nonprofit organizations.
- REUSABLE BAG
- A reusable bag must meet all the following requirements:
- A. Is made solely of or in a combination of natural cloths, synthetic fibers, other washable material or of a nontoxic plastic as defined by applicable state and federal guidelines that is no less than four mils thick and has the work "reusable" or "reuse" or the recycle symbol of a triangle printed on the outside of the bag in a visible manner.
- B. Is specifically designed and manufactured for multiple reuse and has handles which are stitched and not heat infused.
- SINGLE-USE PLASTIC CARRYOUT BAG
- A plastic bag used by the customer at the point of sale for the purpose of removing products purchased from a business establishment. Single-use plastic carryout bags shall include any plastic bag except plastic barrier bags, double-opening plastic bags, plastic bags measuring larger than 28 inches by 36 inches; or plastic bags four mils or more in thickness.
Any person engaged in retail sales shall provide only reusable bags and/or recyclable paper bags as checkout bags to customers.
No retail sales establishment shall make available any plastic checkout bags at the point of sale, not including plastic barrier bags or double-opening plastic bags.
Retail sales establishments will be able to make reusable bags available for sale to the customers.
No business establishment shall provide or sell a single-use plastic carryout bag.
Door hanger bags.
Pet waste bags.
Yard waste bags.
Prescription drug bags.
Bags to carry fruits, vegetables, meat, cold cuts, fish, flowers or potted plants.
Double-opening bags to protect clothing.
Laundry dry-cleaning bags.
Retailers that provide such bags must also provide on-site recycling waste receptacles.
The Town will inform the general public about the initiatives encouraging the use of reusable checkout bags with a support program and education.
From the date of enactment of this chapter, there will be a six-month period of public education and information. After the six-month period, those persons or establishments found to be in violation, shall be notified by the Town's representative in writing and given 14 days to gain compliance. Each person or business that fails to comply within 14 days of the date of the written notice, shall be sent a written order to cease the conduct in violation of this chapter. Said notice shall be sent to the business owner or manager or may be served upon a business as registered agent for service.
Each violation of this chapter shall be subject to a fine of not more than $300. Each day of noncompliance with this chapter shall constitute a separate offense.
For any violation of the provision of this chapter, the Town Council may revoke any municipally issued license granted to the establishment.
Appeals shall be in accordance with the appeal procedures for the Town of Westerly Municipal Court.
Upon application, the Town Council may grant a variance from the literal requirements of this chapter only after determining that:
The requested variance shall be submitted in writing to the Town according to the Town's prescribed procedures.
Any variance granted under this chapter must be the minimum variance necessary to address the hardship.