Sorry, this page has moved!
Please click here to go to the new location.
 Disposable Bag Ordinance FAQs

1. When does the Disposable Bag Reduction Ordinance take effect?   
The ordinance takes effect January 1, 2013.

2. Why has the City banned single-use plastic carryout bags?
The intent of the Disposable Bag Reduction Ordinance is to significantly reduce the environmental impacts related to single-use plastic and paper carry out bags and promote a major shift towards the use of reusable bags.

3. What is the definition of a single-use plastic bag?
“Single-use, plastic carryout bag” means any bag less than 2.25 mil thick and made predominately of plastic derived from petroleum or bio-based sources, such as corn or other plant source, and includes compostable, non-compostable, and biodegradable plastic bags.

4. What retail establishments must comply with this ordinance?
All retail establishments, except restaurants, take-out food establishments and food vendors are prohibited from providing “single- use plastic carryout bags” to customers at the point of sale.

5. Exceptions to this ban.
The single-use carryout bag prohibition does NOT prohibit the distribution of plastic “product bags” such as those distributed within a grocery store for bagging produce or meat.
Stores are required to provide customers participating in the California Special Supplemental Food program for Women, Infants, and Children and customers participating in the Supplemental Food program with a reusable bag or recycled paper bag at no cost at the point of sale.

6. What is the definition of a single-use plastic carryout bag?
“Single Use Plastic Carryout Bag” means any bag that is less than 2.25 mils thick and is made predominately of plastic derived from petroleum or from bio-based sources, such as corn or other plant sources.

7. What is the reason for a 10-cent charge on recycled paper carryout bags?
The reason for the ordinance’s requirement for retail establishments to charge customers 10 cents for each recycled paper carryout bag requested is to encourage the use of reusable bags. 

What happens to all of the monies collected by the retail establishments for the paper bags?
All of the monies collected from the paper bag charge remains with the store.  None of the monies go to the City.

8. What other cities, counties, and joint-power agencies require a cost pass-through in their plastic bag ordinances.
The cities, counties and joint-power agencies include the following: Alameda County Waste Management Authority (County of Alameda; Cities of Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, Dublin, Emeryville, Fremont, Hayward, Livermore, Newark, Oakland, Piedmont, Pleasanton, San Leandro, and Union City), Calabasas, Long Beach, Los Angeles County, Monterey, Pasadena, San Jose, San Luis Obispo County Integrated Waste Management Authority (San Luis Obispo County; Cities of Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Grover City, Morro Bay, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach, and San Luis Obispo), Santa Clara County, Santa Cruz County, and Santa Monica. 

9. How do I avoid paying 10 cents for each recycled paper bag?
Remember to bring your own reusable bags to the store.

10. What types of retail establishments are required to charge 10 cents for each recycled paper bag?
All grocery stores, convenience stores, minimarts, gasoline stores, liquor stores, drug stores and pharmacies are prohibited from providing free distribution of single-use paper and plastic carryout bags.  If these stores decide to make paper carryout bags available for their customers, they are required to sell recycled paper carryout bags made from 100% total recycled content with 40% post-consumer recycled content for not less than 10 cents per bag.  Grocery stores, convenience stores, minimarts, liquor stores, drug stores and pharmacies are the largest distributors of single-use carryout bags.  It is estimated that about 75% of single-use bag waste comes from these stores.

11. Which retailers do NOT have to charge for single-use paper bags?
Other types of retail stores such as department stores, clothing stores, and stores that sell durable goods are allowed to distribute paper bags to customers for free.  These types of stores do not typically distribute single-use plastic carryout bags to customers in large volumes, as compared to grocery stores, convenience stores, mini-marts, liquor stores and pharmacies.  Vendors at the outdoor farmers markets are not required to charge customers for paper bags. 

12. What is the Ordinance definition of a recycled paper carryout bag?
"Recycled Paper Bag" means a paper carryout bag provided by a store to a customer at the point of sale that meets all of the following requirements:

 The paper carryout bag contains a minimum of 40 percent postconsumer recycled materials.
 The paper carryout bag is accepted for recycling in curbside programs in a majority of households that have access to curbside recycling programs in the City.
 The paper carryout bag is capable of composting, consistent with the timeline and specifications of the American Society of Testing and Material (ASTM) Standard Specification for Compostable Plastics D6400, as published in September 2004.
 Printed on the paper carryout bag is the minimum percentage of postconsumer content.

13. What is the ordinance definition of a Reusable bag?

“Reusable bag” means a bag with handles that is specially designed and manufactured for reuse and meets all of the following requirements:
(1) Minimum lifetime of one hundred and twenty-five (125) uses and the capability of carrying a minimum of twenty-two (22) pounds one-hundred and twenty-five (125) times over a distance of at least one-hundred and seventy-five (175) feet;
(2) Minimum volume of fifteen (15) liters;
(3) Machine washable or made from a material that can be cleaned or disinfected;
(4) Does not contain lead, cadmium, or any other heavy metal in toxic amounts, as defined by applicable state and federal standards and regulations for packaging or reusable bags;
(5) Printed on the bag or tag: the name of the manufacturer; location where the bag is manufactured; statement bag does not contain lead, cadmium, or any other heavy metal in toxic amounts; and the percentage of post-consumer recycle material used, if any; and
(6) If made of plastic, is a minimum of at least 2.25 mil thick.

14. What are the penalties for non-compliance with the Disposable Bag Reduction Ordinance? 

 1st violation results in a written Courtesy Citation
 2nd violation- $100 Administrative Citation 
 3rd violation- $200  Administrative Citation 
 Subsequent violations- $500 Administrative Citation