Plastic Bag Ban

The Plastic Bag Ban Ordinance took effect on December 17, 2019. Learn how the plastic ban affects you as a customer and/or as a business owner. Check out our flyer to learn more about Plastic Bag Usage Changes.


Why are plastic shopping bags a problem?
The City of Chelsea passed this ordinance in December 2018 in order to reduce the environmental impact of plastic bags. Disposable plastic shopping bags can turn into waste and litter. Lightweight plastic bags act like a parachute and are easily blown into trees and bodies of water; these flyaway bags can harm wildlife and block drainage. In addition, plastic bags are made from natural gas and petroleum, which are nonrenewable natural resources.
Who does the ordinance apply to?
The ordinance applies to any person, corporation, partnership, business venture, or vendor that sell or provide merchandise, goods or materials directly to a customer, whether for or not for profit, including, but not limited to, restaurants, pharmacies, convenience and grocery stores, liquor stores, seasonal and temporary businesses, jewelry stores, and household goods stores.
How will the ordinance be enforced?
During regular inspections or if a complaint is received, City inspectors will confirm compliance with the ordinance. If a retail establishment is found to be non-compliant, the first violation will result in a warning. Following the warning, the retail establishment will have 14 days to correct the violations. No fine will be issued prior to the 14 days after the initial warning. After that, there will be a $100 fine for each use of a bag that violates the ordinance.
What should I use instead of plastic bags?
All retail establishments should provide reusable bags or recyclable paper bags. Please contact your supply vendor to determine which alternative(s) may work best for your business. 
Does this ordinance apply to non-checkout plastic bags?
No, this ordinance applies only to bags given out at the point of sale. Per the ordinance, the following bags are exempt: 

  • Bags, whether plastic or not, in which loose produce or products are placed by the consumer to deliver such items to the point of sale or check out the area of the retail establishment;
  • Laundry or dry cleaner bags; 
  • Newspaper bags; or
  • Bags used to contain or wrap frozen foods, meat or fish, whether prepackaged or not, to prevent or contain moisture. 
Can a store charge for plastic bags at checkout?
This ordinance does not prohibit selling plastic bags. If a store charges for the plastic bags, the store must provide a receipt to the customer at the time of sale which separately identifies the "Checkout Bag Charge". 
What's the plan for informing customers of the ordinance?
While the ordinance applies to businesses, the City will be conducting outreach to residents and customers about the ordinance and encouraging the use of reusable bags. The City will inform residents via news outlets, the City website, the City newsletter, social media, City Cable TV, community events, flyers in the mail, and this webpage.