OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 226 (File 371, as amended by Senate "A")*



This bill requires, through two stages, all noncompostable or nonreusable plastic bags given to customers at certain retail stores' points of sale to be recyclable and made of a specified amount of recycled material. The bill refers to these bags as “single-use carryout bags.”

Under the bill, by July 1, 2018, half of the single-use carryout bags the stores provide must (1) be 100% recyclable, with at least 25% postconsumer or postindustrial recycled material; (2) have a handle; and (3) be designed and manufactured for multiple reuses. By July 1, 2020, all of the single-use carryout bags the stores provide must meet these requirements.

“Postconsumer or postindustrial recycled material” is material meant for solid waste disposal because it completed its intended end use and product life cycle, but not material and byproduct from, and reused as part of, an original manufacturing and fabrication process.

The bill also requires the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) commissioner, by January 1, 2017, to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Connecticut Retail Merchants Association and the Connecticut Food Association to help reduce the environmental impacts of paper and single-use carryout bags, at no added cost to consumers related to the reduction.

Lastly, the bill repeals a requirement for retail stores offering plastic bags to also offer paper bags and inform customers of the choice.

*Senate Amendment “A” makes various changes, including (1) reducing, from 80% to 25%, the recycled material content requirement for single-use carryout bags stores provide to customers; (2) extending the content requirement to all single-use carryout bags stores provide, not just those provided for free; (3) reducing, from 50% to 33%, the MOU's paper and single-use carryout bag reduction goal; and (4) specifying that the Connecticut Retail Merchants Association and the Connecticut Food Association enter into the MOU.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2016


The bill applies to the following retail establishments:

1. full-line, self-service retail stores with at least $2 million in gross annual sales that sell dry groceries, canned goods, or nonfood items, and some perishable items;

2. retail stores of at least 10,000 square feet of retail space that generate sales or use tax; and

3. convenience food stores, foodmarts, or other entities that sell (a) limited lines of goods, generally including such things as milk, bread, soda, and snack food or (b) goods for off-premises consumption.


The bill's bag content requirements apply to plastic bags given to customers at points of sale that are not reusable or compostable.

Under the bill, a “compostable bag” is a bag that can be broken down through accelerated biological decomposition of organic material under controlled conditions. It must meet, at least, the ASTM International Standard for Specification for Compostable Plastics D6400 (see BACKGROUND).

A “reusable bag” is one given or sold by a store to a customer and that ordinarily:

1. has a handle and is designed to be reused many times;

2. is machine washable or made from a material that can be cleaned or disinfected;

3. is at least 2.25 mils thick, if made of durable plastic; and

4. contains no lead, cadmium, or other toxic material that may threaten public health.

The following bags are exempt from the bill's requirements:

1. pharmacy bags for prescription medication,

2. bags without handles used to protect purchased items from damaging or contaminating other purchased items,

3. bags to carry unwrapped food, and

4. bags without handles to be placed over (a) clothing on a hanger or (b) newspapers.


The bill specifies that the MOU's purpose of reducing environmental impacts from paper and single-use carryout bags will be attained by establishing commitments for DEEP and the associations to:

1. work toward a 33% reduction in the distribution of paper bags and single-use carryout bags to consumers by 2021, with performance targets to assure the goal is met and parameters to verify the reduction;

2. establish incentives to encourage reducing demand for these bags and increase consumers' use of reusable bags;

3. establish single-use carryout bag and other plastic packaging recycling programs at all participating supermarkets, grocery stores, and retailers; and

4. increase the post-consumer recycled content of paper and single-use carryout bags and percentage of biodegradable and compostable bags offered for distribution to consumers by members of the associations.


ASTM D6400

ASTM International is an international voluntary standards development organization. Its D6400 is a specification for plastics and plastic products designed to be composted in municipal and industrial aerobic composting facilities.

Related Bill

sSB 233 (File 374, as amended by Senate “A”), which the Senate passed, establishes a task force to study methods for reducing consumer packaging through source reduction, reuse, and recycling.


Environment Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute