California's Plastic Bag Ordinance


What you need to know about California’s Plastic Bag Ban

On November 8, 2016, California voters approved Proposition 67, the statewide Single-Use Carryout Bag Ban.

As a result, the new law is in effect and most grocery stores, retail stores with a pharmacy, convenience stores, food marts, and liquor stores will no longer be able to provide single-use plastic carry-out bags to their customers. Instead, these stores may provide a reusable grocery bag or recycled paper bag to a customer at the point of sale at a charge of at least 10 cents.

Reusable bags sold today may be made of canvas, hemp, or various types of plastic materials. These bags must meet certain requirements including:

·      Have a handle and be designed for at least 125 uses.

·      Have a volume capacity of at least 15 liters.

·      Be machine washable or made from a material that can be cleaned and disinfected.

·      Have printed on the bag, or on a tag attached to the bag that is not intended to be removed, the following information:

o   The name of the manufacturer.

o   The country where the bag was manufactured.

o   A statement that the bag is a reusable bag and designed for at least 125 uses.

These bags must be produced by certified reusable grocery bag producers. A list of certified producers can be found here.

Recycled paper bags must meet the following requirements:

·      Contain a minimum of 40 percent postconsumer recycled materials (20 percent for bags of eight pound size or smaller).

·      Accepted for recycling in curbside programs in a majority of households that have access to curbside recycling programs in the state.

·      Have printed on the bag the name of the manufacturer, the country where the bag was manufactured, and the minimum percentage of postconsumer content.


Prices for these bags vary. There is no charge if customers bring their own bag. Some stores may choose to provide a credit (usually about 5 cents) toward each purchase if customers bring their own bag.

Stores that are required to comply with the ban:

  • Grocery Stores:  Full-line, self-service retail stores with gross annual sales of at least $2 million that sell a line of dry groceries, canned goods, or nonfood items, and some perishable items.
  • Large Retail Stores with a Pharmacy:  Stores that have at least 10,000 square feet of retail space and a pharmacy and that generate sales or use tax.
  • Convenience Stores, Food Marts, or Liquor Stores:  Stores engaged in the retail sale of a limited line of goods, generally including milk, bread, soda, and snack foods, and that hold a Type 20 or Type 21 license issued by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

To read the full text of the plastic ban legislation, please see Senate Bill 270 (Senators Padilla, De León, and Lara).

Bring your own bags!

Always bring your own reusable bags when you shop. It’s FREE and the preferred environmental alternative.

Free Reusable Bag For City of Ventura Residents!

City Residents, if you would like a complimentary reusable bag please contact Ventura’s Environmental Sustainability Division at (805) 652-4525.


Useful Bag Tips

  • Keep a few reusable bags in your car
  • Stash a fold-away reusable bag in your purse or briefcase
  • Create a reminder on your phone or post a note somewhere in your kitchen
  • Remember to clean your reusable bags as needed. Follow the care instructions on the tag of the bag. Most cloth and fabric bags can be machine washed, while durable plastic bags should be wiped clean. Allow your bags to dry completely before storing.
  • Set aside specific reusable bags for packing groceries.  Use separate bags for raw meat products.

Did you know?

Over 59 million single-use carryout plastic bags are distributed in Ventura each year and about 20 billion are distributed statewide?

It is estimated that only about 5% of the plastic bags distributed are recycled in drop-off recycling bins in grocery stores.  State law requires grocery stores to provide these recycling bins.  The rest of the plastic bags are reused, landfilled, or released into the enviornment where they get entangled in landscaping, clog storm drains and waterways, and potentially reach the ocean where they pose a threat to the marine environment.


Why the ban? Plastic in the Sea and on our Coasts

It is estimated that 60-80% of overall marine debris, and up to 90% of floating debris is plastic. Of those figures, 80% of marine debris is estimated to be land-sourced, mostly from urban runoff. This marine debris travels the world in our oceans. While plastic can take thousands of years to completely breakdown, it photo-degrades into small pieces when exposed to sunlight, creating a growing mass of plastic particles in our oceans and waterways.

According to a 2008 L.A. County report, single-use plastic bags are a common garbage item on coastal beaches and make up as much as 25% of all the garbage flowing out to sea.

“When plastic winds up in our oceans and waterways,” said Courtney Lindberg, Environmental Specialist with the City of Ventura, “it poses a threat to the marine life that can get entangled in them and/or mistake these bags as a food source.” Additionally, the chemical composition of plastic results in the absorption of toxins on their surface, much like a sponge. These tiny, toxic plastic pieces are then mistakenly ingested by marine life and move their way up the food chain, potentially to humans.

Plastic bags aren’t FREE

When you receive a plastic bag to hold your groceries or other items at the store, did you ever think that that FREE bag is costing taxpayers millions every year?

That’s right! According to Californians Against Waste (, California cities spend about $11 per resident to keep litter from ending up in the oceans as marine pollution. For California, the overall cost to protect our waters from litter is roughly $428 million each year, with an estimated 8% to 25% attributable to plastic bags alone.

In addition, many water bodies across the United States, including our own Ventura River, have been identified as impaired waterways by the US EPA and must meet rigorous standards (called TMDL or Total Maximum Daily Load) to reduce or eliminate the presence of litter and trash. Ventura and other communities across Southern California are spending hundreds of millions to comply with these litter reduction requirements.

Tips for Remembering and Maintaining Your Reusable Bags

With so many billions of bags being consumed each year, addressing the issue of plastic bag liter may seem like a daunting task.  The good news is that single use plastic bag litter is caused by individual actions, and individual actions can and will make a huge different in stemming the tide of single use plastic bag litter.  Below are some simple but important things YOU can DO to protect our environment:

  • Keep one or two reusable bags in your car.
  • Place your reusable bags by the door, near your car keys, or with your store coupons.
  • Jot a reminder on your shopping list to bring your reusable bag to the store.
  • Place a reminder note on your refrigerator to bring your reusable bags with you when you leave the house.
  • Keep some reusable bags in your briefcase and at the office.
  • If you forget your bag while in the store, simply walk back to your car to get it.
  • Remember to clean/wash your reusable bags frequently.  Follow the care instructions on the tag of the bag.  Most cloth and fabric bags can be machine washed, while durable plastic bags should be wiped clean.  Allow your bags to dry completely before storing.
  • Set aside specific reusable bags for packing groceries.  Use separate bags for raw meat products.

- Article from LA County Department of Public Works


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