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Changes in Checkout Bags

Published Dec. 11, 2019

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I applaud the rapid change made by many Branford shoppers and retail stores after the state’s 10 cent charge on single-use plastic bags took effect in August. With Branford’s ordinance prohibiting plastic bags for retail checkout effective Dec. 12, there will be some changes in the checkout bags that Branford’s retail stores can offer to shoppers, but shoppers already in the habit of bringing their own bags or carrying out their purchases can continue what they are doing!

The ordinance starts saying, “The purpose of Branford’s ordinance is to protect and improve the environment of Branford including its coastline and marine life, and the health, safety, and welfare of its residents by reducing the use of plastic and paper bags and encouraging the use of reusable carryout bags during the purchase of retail goods.” I will briefly explain the most important parts of the ordinance, since space is limited.

The ordinance says that if a store provides any checkout bags, only two types of checkout bags can be provided: recyclable paper bags that must be 100 percent recyclable with at least 40 percent post-consumer recycled content or reusable checkout bags with the main characteristics of having handles, made of natural fibers (not plastic film), machine washable, and capable of carrying 22 pounds for 175 feet for a minimum of 125 uses.

A retailer’s violation of this ordinance will be subject first to an official warning by a Branford Police officer or a town enforcement officer. After that, a first violation and any subsequent ones will have a civil fine of $150, except with the first violation, for which the offender can elect to do eight hours of community service to reduce the fine to $50.

As of now, the entire ordinance can be read on the town’s Facebook page.

Meg Kilgore