Single-Use Carryout Bag Ordinance

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bagThe City of Santa Clara adopted a single-use carryout bag ordinance that requires grocery stores, pharmacies, and retail stores to stop providing plastic carryout bags, and charge a minimum of ten cents for every paper bag or reusable bag at checkout. Retail establishments will keep all revenue generated from providing recycled paper bags to customers. This ordinance went into effect on December 1, 2014. Read the

Single-Use Carryout Bag Ordinance (PDF).


  • Customers participating in Supplemental Food Programs may be provided with recycled paper bags at no cost.
  • Non-profit charitable organizations and public eating places are not considered retail establishments
  • The ordinance does not apply to protective bags provided for produce, prepared food, bulk food, meat, medication, clothing and garments after cleaning, and bags provided to place personal items for security requirements.

Tips for Residents

  • Keep reusable bags handy by your door or in your car. Foldable bags can go in your purse, pockets, or it can be attached to your keychain.   
  • If you leave your bags in the car, you can take your items out in the shopping basket/cart and bag them once you reach your vehicle.   
  • For health and safety reasons, treat cloth bags the same as your clothing and wash them regularly. Wipe bags that are not machine-washable routinely with a sponge and mild soap to keep clean.
  • Bag raw food (e.g. meat, lettuce) and other foods separately to avoid contamination. Do not use reusable grocery bags for other purposes, such as carrying books, laundry or dirty gym clothes.

Tips for Retail Establishments   

  • If you make paper bags available, they must contain at least 40% post-consumer recycled content and be 100% recyclable. The bag must have the words “Recyclable” and “Reusable” printed along with the manufacturer, location, and percentage of post-consumer recycled content.
  • Reusable bags designed and manufactured for multiple reuse may be made available for sale. They must have handles and be made out of cloth, other machine washable material, or plastic with a minimum thickness of 2.25 mil.  

For more information, contact the Environmental Programs staff at

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