10 • 24 • 2018

Norwalk: says NO to single-use bags!

The Connecticut Chapter worked with Skip the Plastic Norwalk to help pass a ban on single-use plastic checkout bags with a fee on recycled paper bags, encouraging people to choose to reuse instead.

Inspired by the recent victory in Greenwich and the successful effort that launched after that success in Stamford, concerned Norwalk residents organized a grassroots group that raised awareness about the negative impact of plastic pollution in their community and took action to mitigate plastic checkout bags. 

The Common Council members voted unanimously in favor of the ordinance on January 8, 2019, creating a local law that in 6 months will prohibit plastic checkout bags under 12ml and add a 10-cent fee on paper and reusable bags. As the 6th largest city in the State, this is a big beat! There are currently no plastic bags manufactured that meet the 10 or 12 ml thickness specification, which means that at least for now and beginning in six months, there will be no plastic bags in Norwalk.

Always requiring a fee on any type of checkout bag given at point of sale is key to properly incentivize reusable bags. We have seen across the nation that industry has responded to our increasing of allowable thickness from 2.25 ml to 3 ml to 4 ml by creating bags to meet that thickness. What we know what works to curb consumer behavior is the fee on any type of bag given at point of sale, and we know that banning all types of plastic bags of any thickness specification will help us gain ground toward achieving true source reduction with less and less and hopefully, eventually no low grade plastic being manufactured. If we advocate for allowable bags at 10 or 12 ml, we may inadvertently monetize the market for the creation of those bags, which detracts from our source reduction goals, so this strategy should be replicated with caution and only with a fee component attached. Give our Northeast Regional Manager shout if you're working on a bag law in New England and would like help:

By banning thin film plastic checkout bags and by adding a 10-cent fee on paper bags, Norwalk will:

  • reduce pollution at the source by reducing the amount of fossil fuel necessary to produce plastic bags.
  • remove a major source of pollution that negatively impacts Norwalk.
  • save taxpayer dollars from bag-cleanup of clogged drains and waterways.
  • incentivize the use of reusable bags by adding a fee on paper bags.
  • help build the case for support of a statewide legislation to address this problem systematically while providing for standardized business and distribution practices.

Surfrider Connecticut activists were on board to help; please give our chair, Jack Egan, a shout if you would like to engage in plastic pollution campaigns in CT:

Plastic Pollution