Environmentally Acceptable Packaging/Products

New Charleston Single-Use Plastic Regulations, Effective January 1, 2020

Operations throughout Charleston will be required to eliminate use of single-use plastic carryout and merchandise bags, as well as certain plastic carryout and food packaging items, beginning January 1, 2020.

View the Ratified Ordinance (November 27, 2018), and a Ratified Amendment (September 24, 2019).

Printable Informational Flyer

Business Workshops Held Oct 28 + 30!in_the_bag_logo

Over 50 businesses and organizations joined one of two free workshops in October 2019.  

The workshops were designed to provide establishments with tools and resources to support a smooth transition and adaptation to the new plastic regulations.  

LEARN MORE about resources offered at the workshops.

Printable Flyer

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What the Requirements Mean

Single-use plastic carryout bags” may not be provided to customers

“Disposable food service ware / to go packaging / food packaging materials” (clamshells, bowls, plates, cups, straws, stirrers, etc.)

that contains polystyrene/plastic foam (sometimes called Styrofoam™) may not be provided to customers

shall be recyclable or compostable

“Polystyrene/plastic foam products” (foam coolers, cups, plates, packing peanuts, etc.) may not be sold, rented or supplied to customers

Exceptions

There are specialty items that are not restricted or are exempt from restrictions.  Please see the ordinance dated 9/24/19 and flyer for more information.

Effective Date

To offer time for establishments to utilize current inventory and plan for future compliance, a 13 month grace period was built in so the ordinance will take effect on January 1, 2020.  

Educational Signage

Business establishments within the City limits are strongly encouraged to provide prominently displayed signage advising customers of the benefit of reducing, reusing and recycling and promoting the use of reusable carryout bags by customers.  

FREE SIGNAGE COMING SOON!

Our Plastic Transition Program includes the design and purchase of signage free of charge (grant funded) for businesses and organizations to utilize to help support community-wide behavioral change!  

LEARN MORE and provide input on the signage!

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A Sustainable Charleston

In Charleston, our environment is essential to our economy. This ordinance is designed to protect the engine of our economy and livability of our City so businesses, particularly those influenced by tourism, and residents can continue to enjoy what the beauty and bounty of Charleston's waterways offer for generations to come.

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Remember Your Reusable Bags!

Public Engagement

We are thankful so many citizens, businesses and organizations have been engaged over the past few years and have contributed ideas and feedback to the discussion about regulating plastics.

Learn more about the history of this discussion in Charleston.

Survey Results: Results of a 2016 local survey (PDF) on plastic bags that received almost 5,000 responses from businesses and citizens who overwhelmingly support a ban on plastic bags.

Requests for Exemption 

Establishments may file for a temporary exemption if you qualify for one of the below reasons.  Read below to see if you qualify, and how to apply.  

  • Undue Hardship or Practical Difficulty (includes excess inventory) not generally applicable to other persons in similar circumstances (up to one year exemption, applies to entire Article V)

Applications for an Undue Hardship or Practical Difficulty (not including excess inventory) should prove proactive efforts have been made and be substantiated with factual evidence of why the hardship or difficulty exists despite best efforts to uphold the spirit of the ordinance.

Applications for excess inventory should include proof excess inventory was purchased prior to 11/27/18, the date of ratification.  The City may ask for information periodically on inventory reduction and remaining stock.

  • Public Health and Safety Requirement or Medical Necessity to use the product (up to one year exemption, applies to foam products only)

If you qualify for either of the above reasons, your next step is to complete an exemption application.  Make sure to explain clearly why you feel like you qualify for an exemption.  Please also remember to attach documents that support your claim.   Please note, approved requests may be posted publicly on the City's website. 

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What Are Microplastics?