Connecticut Single Use Plastic Bag Fee Temporarily Suspended
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Gov. Lamont’s Executive Order 7N Provides Maximum Flexibility to Retailers
Issued jointly by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Department of Public Health, and the Department of Revenue Services
(Hartford, CT) – In light of recent concerns raised by retail employees over potential exposure to the novel coronavirus by handling reusable shopping bags, Gov. Ned Lamont is temporarily suspending the state’s ten-cent fee on plastic bags, and allowing retail employees the opportunity to decline to bag for customers who bring in reusable bags.
The Connecticut Department of Revenue Services (DRS) is notifying Connecticut retailers that effective immediately retailers are not required to collect the fee through May 15, 2020.
Over the last nine months, Connecticut shoppers have overwhelmingly embraced the use of reusable shopping bags, which helps reduce plastic waste that harms the environment. Because of circumstances regarding COVID-19, questions have been raised about potential risks to retail employees from handling reusable bags. According to guidance from the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH), given the most current scientific information available, reusable plastic bags will not serve as a significant source of infection for COVID-19. The primary route of spread of the virus is from person-to-person contact and airborne droplets, but it is important to clean and disinfect all surfaces commonly touched by people.
In these stressful times, the Lamont Administration is responding to the concerns of our retail employees who are enabling continued operation of critical services, by taking steps to provide flexibility that are grounded in expert assessment of public health risk. Accordingly, Governor Lamont issued Executive Order 7N Thursday evening temporarily suspending the ten-cent plastic bag fee. The Executive Order does not mandate the use of single-use bags. In line with public health guidance, the Executive Order does not prohibit customers from using reusable bags, but enables personal choice by allowing retail employees the opportunity to decline to bag them.
Connecticut state residents who use reusable bags are strongly encouraged to use bring-your-own and pack-your-own bags. Most reusable bags can be easily cleaned between uses if residents desire, through laundering, hand washing, or wiping with a disinfecting wipe.
Prior to this suspension, any Connecticut retailer that provided plastic bags to its customers in connection with a sale of goods was required to collect the plastic bag fee. The plastic bag fee, which applied statewide at the rate of $0.10 for each single-use plastic bag, was collected by retailers and remitted to DRS.
Acting Revenue Services Commissioner John Biello said DRS is preparing formal guidance regarding the suspension of the plastic bag fee and is committed to working with the business community to answer any questions that may arise.
Keeping retail employees safe is a primary concern during this public health emergency. As a general matter, DPH encourages following the basic public health precautions that are currently advised by CDC and DPH, including frequent hand-washing (for 20 seconds or more using soap and water) or use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer, avoiding touching of the face (especially the eyes, nose, and mouth) with unwashed hands, and routine cleaning of public spaces and frequently handled items, as effective ways to protect workers from infection with COVID-19 coronavirus from surfaces or objects.