What’s up with new Seattle Bag Ban

What’s up with new Seattle Bag Ban?

A new City of Seattle law takes affect on July 1, 2012 relating to the banning of the use of certain types of plastic bags, plus fees for certain bags.

The way that this currently lays out is as follows:

  • All Seattle retail stores are prohibited from providing customers with single-use plastic carryout (shopping) bags, including those that are advertised as compostable, biodegradable, or photo degradable.

  • Retail stores in Seattle may provide customers with any size recyclable paper or reusable bag; however, the store MUST charge a minimum of 5 cents for paper carry out bags of 1/8 barrel (882 cubic inches) or larger,  This size is typical of grocery bags with a flat bottom greater than 60 square inches.

  • Any paper bag charge revenue is to be retained by the retailer.  The retailer may charge (at their discretion) for smaller size bags or provide them free of charge.  All paper bag charges must be shown on customer receipts.

  • All bag fees charged to the consumer are considered to be taxable at the retailer’s standard retail sales tax rate.

  • All bags to which the 5 cent charge applies must contain at least 40 percent post-consumer recycled fiber and display the minimum recycled content on the outside of the bag.  Use of recycled fiber and labeling is encouraged for all sizes of bags.

  • Bags of plastic that is 2.25 MIL or thicker are deemed to be reusable and may be provided free of charged for at the stores discretion.

Exemptions to the ban and fees:

  • Customers using vouchers or electronic benefit (EBT) cards from state or federal food assistance programs for grocery purchases are exempt from the 5 cent paper bag charge.

  • Plastic bags used in stores for bulk items or to protect vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, frozen foods, flowers, deli foods, and similar where moisture would be a problem are exempt.

  • Plastic bags for take-out orders from restaurants are allowed, though the use of recyclable paper bags is encouraged.

  • Dry-cleaner, newspaper, and door-hanger bags and plastic bags sold in packages containing multiple bags intended for use as garbage bags or to contain pet waste, approved  compostable food, yard waste bags, and small paper bags are exempt.

  • Merchants with supplies of plastic carryout bags that were purchased before this ordinance (#123775) became law on January, 19, 2012, may use them until their supplies run out. However, there is one caveat here… The businesses where this would be allowed must have not other locations outside of the City of Seattle.


The city of Seattle can impose a $250 fine for violations.

What do I need to do in my software in order to be prepared for this change?

In order to be able to charge customers this new bag fee, you will need to set-up an appropriately defined non-inventory item in your CounterPoint software. Additionally,  you may want to add this item to your Touch screen configuration.

Please contact the CCS Retail System Support Department for assistance with setting up your new Bag Fee item.

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