Carryout Bag Ordinance

Carryout Bag Ordinance

The Norwalk Common Council unanimously passed the Carryout Bag Ordinance on January 8, 2019. This ordinance was passed after many well-attended meetings with Norwalk residents, students, non-profits, and local businesses expressing their support for this measure.

The ordinance prohibits the use of plastic carryout bags and provides for a 10-cent charge for carryout bags made of paper. The ordinance applies to any person, business or non-profit entity that sells or provides merchandise, goods, food and beverages, or materials operating in the City of Norwalk. It takes effect July 8, 2019.

The Carryout Bag Ordinance is a positive first step in reducing the city’s plastic footprint. Plastic bags are no longer accepted for recycling and 100,000 end up in Long Island Sound each year. Encouraging customers to choose to reuse by limiting plastic bags improves human health and reduces the fiscal and environmental impact of plastic waste, which will help protect and enhance the beauty of our waterfront community. 

Have questions? Contact Norwalk Customer Service at customerservice@norwalkct.org or (203) 854-3200. 

Residents:  

  • Effective July 8, 2019, the ordinance prohibits retail establishments from providing certain types of bags at checkout or the point-of-sale in the City of Norwalk.
  • Customers are highly encouraged to bring reusable bags for all of their shopping.
    • Need a bag or want to donate one? There are collection boxes across Norwalk. Visit Skip the Plastic Norwalk for a list of donation sites.  
  • The bag ordinance applies to all retail establishments operating in the City of Norwalk.
    • Businesses may only dispense reusable bags or recycled paper bags at checkout.
    • The ordinance does not apply to the sale of goods at yard sales, tag sales, or other sales by residents at their homes.
  • Certain bags are exempt, including:
    • Bags used by consumers inside stores to: package bulk items such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, candy, or small hardware items; contain or wrap frozen foods, meat, or fish, whether pre-packaged or not; contain or wrap flowers, potted plants or other items where dampness may be a problem; segregate food or merchandise that could damage or contaminate other food or merchandise when placed together in a bag; or contain unwrapped prepared foods or bakery goods.
    • Newspaper bags, door-hanger bags, laundry-dry cleaning or garment bags;
    • Bags sold in packages containing multiple bags intended for use as garbage, pet waste bags, or yard waste bags.
    • Bags provided by pharmacists to contain prescription drugs.
  • General questions about the ordinance may be directed to the Norwalk Customer Service Center at customerservice@norwalkct.org or (203) 854-3200.

Download the At-a-glance reference guide

View the Carryout Bag Ordinance

For more resources visit Skip the Plastic Norwalk

Retail Establishments: 

  • Effective July 8, 2019, the ordinance prohibits retail establishments from providing certain types of bags at checkout or the point-of-sale in the City of Norwalk.
  • Businesses may only dispense reusable bags or recycled paper bags at checkout.
  • The ordinance establishes a charge of 10-cents for a paper carryout bag. This charge is not a tax and stays with the merchant. All retail establishments must post signs at or near the point-of-sale to notify customers of the 10-cent charge. The charge does not apply to bags to carry items purchased with SNAP, WIC or similar government food assistance programs.
  • The bag ordinance applies to all retail establishments operating in the City of Norwalk. This includes, by way of example and not limitation, any grocery store, grocery delivery service, department store, clothing store, hardware store, hospital, pharmacy, liquor store, restaurant, delicatessen, convenience store, food truck, sidewalk vendor, farmers’ market, flea market, and any other retail store or vendor.

  • Businesses may only dispense reusable bags or recycled paper bags at checkout.
    • Reusable bags must be made of cloth, fiber, or other machine washable fabric, or durable plastic that is at least 12.0 mils (thousandths of an inch) thick, and not contain lead, cadmium, or any other toxic material.
    • Paper carryout bags may be offered to customers for a charge of 10-cents.  These paper carryout bags must be 100% recyclable, contain at least 40% post-consumer recycled content (except that an eight pound or smaller bag must contain a minimum of 20% post-consumer recycled content), and have printed conspicuously on the outside of the bag the words “Reusable” and “Recyclable” along with the percentage of post-consumer recycled content.
  • If it is determined that a retail establishment has violated the ordinance, the Code Enforcement Officer or their designee will issue a written warning notice to the retail establishment for the initial violation. For the second violation, there will be a $150 penalty, and for the third and each subsequent violation, there will be a $250 penalty.
  • General questions about the ordinance may be directed to the Norwalk Customer Service Center at customerservice@norwalkct.org or (203) 854-3200.

Download the 8.5 x 11 flyer in English or Spanish

Download the 11 x 14 poster in English or Spanish

Download the table tent card

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the intent of the Plastic Carryout Bag Ordinance?
A: The intent of the ordinance is to significantly reduce the environmental and community impacts related to single-use plastic and paper checkout bags and promote a major shift toward the use of reusable bags. 

Q: I already reuse plastic bags, so what’s the harm?
A: While some people make an effort to reuse their plastic checkout bags, the proliferation, distribution and harmful polluting effects remain the same. Plastic bags are used for an average of 12 minutes. Only 1% of plastic bags are returned to stores for recycling.

Q: Are reusable bags safe? Won’t they harbor germs?
A: As with any food handling, normal washing and hygiene practices are important.

More FAQS can be found from Skip the Plastic Norwalk