Checkout Bag Ordinance
The City and County of San Francisco recently amended Chapter 17 of the Environment Code, extending the plastic checkout bag ban to include all retail establishments (stores) and adding a charge on allowed checkout bags (compostable bags, recycled paper bags, or reusable bags). Shoppers can avoid the charge by bringing their own bag.
How can I learn more about the ordinance?
SF Environment has kicked off its checkout bag ordinance consumer education campaign with multilingual events throughout the city. At these events, residents can ask questions, receive free reusable bags, and pledge to use their own bag. Seven thousand free reusable bags will be handed out.
What is the purpose of the legislation?
The purpose of this legislation is to encourage customers to bring their own checkout bags, in order to reduce the impact of disposable bags to the City and the environment.
This legislation helps reduce unnecessary waste, contamination in recycling and composting programs, and litter, all of which is costly to the taxpayers of San Francisco, as well as harmful to marine life. The bag reduction ordinance also saves stores in checkout bag purchasing costs.
At least 45 other cities and counties in California have similar laws. Checkout bag charges have been shown to reduce the number of disposable bags used by 70-90 percent.
Are businesses required to charge?
Businesses are required to charge a minimum of 10 cents per checkout bag, but can charge more per bag if they prefer.
The 10 cent charge must be listed as a single line item on the customer’s receipt and is not taxable to the consumer according to the State Board of Equalization Special Notice: Sales Tax Does Not Apply to City and County Bag Surcharges.
Anonymously report stores that are not compliant and not charging for checkout bags with our San Francisco Bag Ordinance Non-Compliance Report Form. SF Environment will follow-up with the business.
How can shoppers avoid the charge?
Shoppers can avoid the charge by bringing their own bag when they shop, or refusing a bag when they make a purchase that is easy to carry without a bag.
How will the legislation affect the poor and elderly in San Francisco?
Low-income people and seniors will be able to avoid all bag costs by bringing their own bags to the store. Customers participating in WIC or EBT/ food stamp programs are exempt from the bag charge.
Are restaurants included in this new ordinance?
Restaurants and bakeries must comply with the Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance beginning in October 1, 2013, however these businesses can implement a charge for bags at any time.
Where will the money be spent?
Stores keep the entire checkout bag charge in order to offset the cost of allowable bags.
Resources for Shoppers
View resources for shoppers, including checkout bag events in your neighborhood!
Resources for Businesses
Where to Buy Bags
- Suppliers of Recycled Paper Checkout Bags
- Suppliers of Certified Compostable Checkout Bags
- Suppliers of Reusable Checkout Bags
How to Notify Your Customers
- Sample Store Placard
- Bring Your Bag Poster - 8.5"x11"
- Bring Your Bag Poster - 11"x17"
- Bring Your Bag Poster - Chinese
- Bring Your Bag Poster - Spanish
Checkout Bag Definitions, Labeling Requirements, and Reusable Bag Verification Tests
- Checkout Bag Definitions and Labeling Requirements
- Reusable Checkout Bag Requirements and Verification Tests
Official Notice and Ordinance
Additional Information for Checkout Bag Ordinance
San Francisco is habitat for 800,000 people – meeting needs for space to work, play, and learn; for food, water, and air; for community with local flora and fauna. SF Environment provides support for urban agriculture and forestry and green buildings, helping residents and businesses harness environmental opportunities.