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Reusable Bag Ordinance FAQs

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What does the Reusable Bag Ordinance do?

The Reusable Bag Ordinance regulates single-use carryout bags at certain retail stores throughout
Alameda County.

Starting January 1, 2013, reusable bags or bags made of recycled content paper may be provided,
but only if the store charges a minimum price of 10 cents per bag. The ordinance does not regulate
use of single-use bags used to protect and transport produce, bulk food or meat from within a store
to the checkout or cash register.

Consumers may bring any type of bag to a store for their purchases, and are encouraged to do so!

Which stores are affected?

Grocery stores, supermarkets, foodmarts, convenience stores, liquor stores, pharmacies, drug
stores or other entities that sell milk, bread, soda and snack foods and/or alcohol in Alameda County are affected.
Restaurants and take-out food establishments are not affected by the ordinance.

When does the ordinance take effect?

As of January 1, 2013 stores will no longer be able to distribute single-use plastic carryout bags. If a
store makes reusable and/or recycled content paper bags available, the store is required to charge
a minimum of 10 cents per bag and individually itemize the charge on the customers’ receipt.

Why was this ordinance adopted?

  • Plastic bags are currently one of the most common litter items found in our creeks, storm
    drains and waterways
  • Fewer bags distributed will reduce plastic bag litter in Alameda County, and reduce the cost
    to the public of litter cleanup.
  • Several studies show that regulating single-use plastic bags and charging for single-use
    paper bags will dramatically reduce the use of both types of bags.

Why not include all stores in the county?

The ordinance includes the stores that traditionally distribute a high volume of single-use bags.

How will the Reusable Bag Ordinance be enforced?

The Alameda County Waste Management Authority will enforce the ordinance. The Authority is actively reaching out to local businesses to make sure they are aware of the new law. We will give stores ample time to make the necessary changes in bag distribution practices. After January 1, 2013, stores that do not comply with the ordinance could be fined.

How can I learn more?

Additional resources will be provided to stores to educate their customers about the ordinance in the Fall of 2012. Information for consumers and retailers is available now at or by calling the Reusable Bag Ordinance Information line at 510-891-6575.