The Reusable Bag Law now affects all stores and eating establishments in Alameda County.
- If you need a bag for your purchases, each store-provided reusable plastic bag will cost shoppers at least 10 cents (some stores charge more).
- Shoppers can avoid paying 10 cents for a paper or reusable bag (which can include thicker, more durable plastic bags) by bringing their own bags to the store.
- Bags without handles for protection of goods (produce, bulk items, garment bags, etc) are not affected by the expanded law.
At Eating Establishments:
- Eating establishments and delivery services can no longer distribute single-use plastic bags.
- Paper bags can be given free.
- Thick, reusable plastic bags can be provided for a 10 cents charge (some may charge more).
- Bags without handles for protection of goods (such as around containers of soup to prevent spilling) are allowed at no charge.
Bring your own bag to all your favorite retail shops and eating establishments!
Additional information about the bag law:
Why does this law exist?
Reusable Bag Tips
- Purchase just a couple of items and forgot your bag? You can carry out your purchases without a bag!
- Put coupons in your bag and keep it by the door.
- Hang a few reusable bags on the coat rack or door knob.
- Keep reusable bags in the back seat or trunk of your car.
- Keep compact reusable bags in a purse, jacket pocket, messenger bag, diaper bag or backpack.
Clean your own reusable bags
It's a good idea to regularly clean your reusable bags. Below are some common-sense tips on how to keep your reusable bags clean and safe.
- Regularly clean your bags. Most fabric bags can be washed in the washing machine. For bags made from plastic material, soak in a basin filled with soapy water and either the juice of half a lemon or about a quarter cup of vinegar.
- Air out bags air so moisture evaporates.
- Designate specific bags for meats and fish.
Please see "Practical Tips for the Use and Care of Reusable Grocery Shopping Bags" from the California Department of Public Health.
Make your own reusable bags
You can make a reusable bag in 10 minutes using just an old t-shirt, a pair of scissors, and these simple instructions. No sewing! Or for the more advanced, check out this detailed pattern and instructions on how to make your own bag from reusable fabric.
Has the law been effective?
Yes, since the implementation of the Ordinance, survey data from 70 stores shows:
- An 80% decline in the use of single use paper and plastic bags.
- A 200% increase in the number of shoppers bringing reusable bags, or not using a bag at all
- 44% decrease in plastic bags found in County storm drains
- Stores are participating with a compliance rate of 90+%
Chart reflects bag purchasing data for a total of 63 Alameda County stores from 5 major chains/big box stores (for 2017).
When did the law take effect?
Since 2013, grocery stores and certain other food retailers in Alameda County have not been allowed to provide single-use plastic carryout bags at checkout. November 1, 2017, this ordinance expanded to include ALL retail stores, and on May 1, 2017 to all eating establishments in Alameda County.
What stores are affected?
As of May 1, 2017 - all retail stores in Alameda County are affected by the expanded law, including but not limited to:
Bags without handles that are used to sort or protect goods (like fresh produce, bulk items, or clothing in garment bags) are not affected by the law.
What about restaurants?
As of November 1, 2017, this law also applies to all eating establishments and food delivery sevices in Alameda County. The primary difference for restaurants is that they will be able to provide recycled content paper bags free of charge.
All eating establishments includes, but is not limited to: