Effective June 15th, 2021, the COVID-19 Health Orders and Directives were rescinded and replaced entirely by a Safe Return Together Health Order that does not restrict the use of reusable bags. Stores should remove signs prohibiting reusable bags. Stores must charge bags provided at checkout at the rate of $0.25 per checkout bag, which went into effect on July 1st, 2020. The new requirement for stores to provide only recyclable paper or certified compostable pre-checkout bags also went into effect July 1st, 2020.
The Checkout Bag Charge and Recyclable or Compostable Pre-Checkout Bag Ordinance aims to:
- Reduce litter and waste
- Reduce contamination in recycling (blue bin) and composting (green bin), in turn reducing costs to San Francisco taxpayers
- Improve water quality in the Bay and ocean by reducing pollution
Starting July 1, 2020:
- Stores must charge at least 25 cents per checkout bag (previously 10 cents). Checkout bags include those provided for takeout and delivery.
- Pre-checkout bags must be recyclable or compostable. There is no charge required for pre-checkout bags. Pre-checkout bags are any bag provided to a customer before the point of sale used to:
- Contain bulk items such as produce, nuts, grains, candy, meat, fish, baked goods, or small hardware
- Contain unwrapped prepared foods such as bakery goods or popcorn
- Prevent damage to a good or contamination of other goods placed together in the same bag
- Contain leftover food from sit down dining ("doggy bags")
- Conventional, non-compostable plastic pre-checkout bags may not be distributed starting July 1, 2020.
What All Food Establishments and Retail Stores Need to Do to Comply:
1. Offer an acceptable checkout bag to customers. All single-use, conventional plastic checkout and pre-check out bags are prohibited. Acceptable checkout bags include:
- BPI-certified compostable plastic bags
- Paper bags labeled with 40% post-consumer recycled content
- Reusable checkout bags designed for at least 125 uses and washable
2. Charge at least 25¢ per checkout bag and display any charge separately on the customer receipt. Businesses keep the checkout bag charge. The charge does not apply to EBT, WIC, SNAP, and food stamp program transactions.
3. Offer an acceptable pre-checkout bag. All pre-checkout bags (i.e. “produce bags”) must be either compostable plastic or recyclable paper.
Compostable plastic pre-checkout bags must be:
- Clearly labeled “Compostable” in a highly visible manner on the outside of bag
- Green color throughout
- Have a minimum of 15-inch mouth width so as to fit most kitchen compost pails
Recyclable paper pre-checkout bags must be:
- 100% recyclable paper with a minimum of 40% post-consumer recycled content
- Labeled “Recyclable” in highly visible manner on the outside of the bag
- Labeled with the name of the manufacturer, the country where manufactured, and the percentage of post-consumer recycled content, all in an easy-to-read size and font on the outside of the bag
Where to Buy Bags
- Checkout and pre-checkout bag vendor list and purchasing requirements (PDF)
- Reusable checkout bag requirements and verification Tests (PDF)
- Signs welcoming customers to bring their own reusable bags - July 2020 - English/Spanish/Chinese (PDF)
- Sample point of sale placard English/Spanish/Chinese (PDF)
- Bring Your Bag Poster - English/Spanish/Chinese - 8.5"x11" (PDF)
- Ordinance file 190417 Board of Supervisors
- State Board of Equalization Special Notice: Sales Tax Does Not Apply to City and County Bag Surcharges
- SF Zero Waste policies compliance form
- Letter in English/Spanish/Chinese (PDF)
- COVID-19 Health Order