Single-Use Plastic Regulations to Take Effect in Charleston January 1, 2020

Beginning January 1, 2020, the grace period will expire and new single-use plastic regulations will take effect in the City of Charleston, Town of James Island, and in the unincorporated areas of Charleston County.

At that time, operations must eliminate use of single-use plastic carryout and merchandise bags, as well as certain plastic carryout and food packaging items including:

  • Polystyrene (also known as plastic foam or StyrofoamTM) and other non-recyclable and non-compostable food service ware, carryout containers and food packaging materials such as bowls, boxes, clamshells, cups, plates, stirrers and straws.
  • The selling or renting of polystyrene bowls, cups, plates, coolers, containers, ice chests, shipping boxes and packing material.

The new guidelines apply to all commercial and nonprofit operations including: concession/event vendors and food trucks, farmers markets/stands and takeout stands, schools and government, grocery and liquor stores, restaurants and bars and retail stores.

Establishments will be able to choose from numerous affordable alternatives and certain specialty items will still be allowed such as reusable bags and recyclable paper bags, recyclable or compostable disposable food containers and service ware including: aluminum, cardboard, glass, paper and recyclable plastics.

The following specialty items are not restricted: bags for bulk grocery items, bags for raw, frozen or prepared foods, bread bags, condiment packages, cutlery, deli bags, dry cleaning/garment bags, egg cartons, floral/plant wrapping, garbage bags, meat trays, newspaper bags, pet waste bags, plastic drink or soup container lids, produce bags and straws for use by customers with disabilities. 

The new requirements were enacted to maintain cleaner streets and waterways and preserve the beauty and livability of the Charleston area for generations to come.

Detailed information is available online at


Citizens and businesses with specific questions can contact:

City of Charleston: (843) 724-7311 or [email protected]

Town of James Island: (843) 795-4141 or [email protected]

Charleston County: (843) 720-7111 or [email protected]

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