In October of 2009, the Kauai County Council adopted a law that requires all retail establishments to provide only recyclable paper bags or reusable bags to their customers effective January 11, 2011. The purpose of the legislation was to reduce the significant impacts of plastic checkout bags on the environment, which include litter, an increasing burden on the landfill, and threats to marine life.

The ordinance encourages customers to bring their own reusable bags while shopping, and does not preclude retailers from offering checkout bags for sale to those customers who do not bring their own bags.

In October and November of 2010, public information meetings were held in order to discuss the legislation and draft rules. If you have questions, please call the County Recycling Office at 241-4841.

Did You Know?

  • First introduced in 1977 as an alternative to paper bags, plastic bags now account for 4 out of every 5 bags handed out at grocery stores.
  • Somewhere between 500 billion and a trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year.
  • Solid materials, typically waste, that has found its way to the marine environment is called marine debris. It is known to be the cause of injuries and deaths of numerous marine animals and birds, either because they become entangled in it or they mistake it for prey and eat it.
  • The world's "great garbage patch" can be found floating between Hawaii and San Francisco. This garbage patch is estimated to be twice the size of Texas and thousands of pounds of our discarded trash, mostly plastics.
  • Each year the United States consumes 30 billion plastic grocery bags, requiring 12 million barrels of oil.
  • The average American uses 300 to 700 plastic bags per year. If everyone in the United States tied their annual consumption of plastic bags together in a giant chain, the chain would reach around the Earth 760 times!