05 • 01 • 2018

Stamford Steps it up to Reduce Single-Use Bags!

The Connecticut Chapter worked with the Bring Your Own Bag Stamford group to help ban single-use plastic checkout bags and add a fee on recycled paper bags to best incentivize the use of reusable bags.

Inspired by the recent victory in Greenwich, residents of Stamford, Connecticut organized a Bring Your Own Bag Stamford group to work with the Board of Representatives on reducing the negative impacts of needless pollution from single-use checkout bags. 

By banning plastic checkout bags and adding a 10-cent fee on all recycled paper bags sold at point of sale, we are doing all of the following:

  • stopping this needless pollution at the source by reducing the # of bags in circulation that are produced from fossil fuels 
  • removing a huge source of pollution from single-use plastic bags from Stamford's environment
  • saving taxpayer dollars from bag-cleanup of clogged drains, waterways and recycling equipment 
  • incentivizing the use of reusable bags by adding a fee on paper bags
  • helping build the case for support of statewide legislation to address this problem systematically while providing for standardized business and distribution practices.

On October 1, 2018, the Stamford Council voted to pass the ordinance, which goes into effect in April 2019. The ordinance requires all paper bags sold for 10-cents at point of sale to be 100% recyclable and contain at least 40% recycled content.

The vote was 30 yea, 5 nay, 1 excused and 4 absent. See how your Board of Representatives voted, here, and consider sending an email to thank all who supported this important effort!

Surfrider Connecticut activists helped throughout this process to get this to the finish line.

Unfortunately, the ordinance includes a loophole that allows for plastic bags that are 2.25 mils or thicker to be considered reusable and given out for free, thereby creating an opportunity for stores to simply replace their thinner plastic bags with thicker ones. Data demonstrates those thicker plastic bags are then likely to be used in a single-use manner, as they are incentivized in an appealing manner being free and convenient to pick up at check out with no incentive for the consumer to change behavior, whereas non-plastic reusable bags that customers need to remember to bring or purchase at the store will be less appealing to average shoppers.

Still, the Stamford ordinance is a good start that takes the bold, necessary step of adding a fee on paper to generate good policy, and the chapter will monitor the effectiveness and come back around to the Stamford Board to amend and improve the ordinance in the future, if needed, to close the thickness loophole.

YOU can be a part of this work, too! Please give CT volunteer chair Jack Egan a shout if you would like to engage in plastic pollution mitigation or other campaigns in CT - help is always needed and appreciated:

Not sure what all is fuss about single-use bags is about? Check out these resources for more info:

Rise Above Plastics
Facts and Figures
Plastic Bags

A great way to support all of our work in Connecticut is to join/renew your Surfrider Foundation membership, and come volunteer with us!


Plastic Pollution