Retailer Requirements

The law applies to all retail stores that sell perishable or nonperishable goods including, but not limited to, clothing, food, and personal items. The requirements of the law are as follows:

1.  No more single-use plastic bags.

Retail stores in Alameda County cannot distribute single-use plastic bags.

2.  Charge at least 10 cents for compliant reusable bags.

Compliant reusable bags (including recycled paper bags, and thick, reusable plastic bags) may be distributed if:

  • at least ten cents is charged
  • this charge is itemized on the receipt.

The store keeps the 10 cent charge, which is not subject to sales tax.

3.  Protective Bags made of paper or plastic that do not have handles are allowed if they are used to:

  • Transport produce from produce department, bulk food from bulk food area, meat from meat department, or medication from pharmacy to checkout, OR
  • Separate food or merchandise that could damage or contaminate other food or merchandise when placed together in a single bag.
    (see Ordinance Section 3(m) for additional details on exempt "Produce/Product Bags".

Additional Notes:

  • The ordinance language allows stores to make their own decision between providing recycled content paper bag(s) or reusable bag(s).
  • Bags sold to customers must meet the specifications in the ordinance (see Bag Specifications page).
  • All proceeds from the sale of recycled paper bags and reusable bags are retained by the retailer without any restrictions on their use.
  • Section 3(r) of the 2016 Ordinance contains the definition of a "Store" as covered under this law.

Bags at No Cost:

  • The ordinance allows stores to decide on how they handle customers participating in WIC and CalFresh/Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) programs. The ordinance:
    • Does not require the store to give out free reusable or free recycled paper bags.
    • Does not mandate stores to charge the fee to those participating in SNAP and WIC.
  • Per SNAP and WIC program regulations (NOT the Authority's Ordinance 2012-2 regulations),if a store charges fees for bags, SNAP and WIC funds can not be used to pay those fees.