Plastic Bags are History in San Francisco

Plastic bags are history in San Francisco on October 1st, 2012! 

San Francisco led the way in 2007 with the first plastic bag ban in the country, eliminating plastic bags at large grocery storesSince then, several Bay Area cities have adopted stronger policies that ban plastic bags at all types of stores.  Not to be outdone, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted in February to expand the city’s ban to cover all stores and restaurants as well.  On October 1st, plastic bags will be a thing of the past at San Francisco stores and by October 2013, they’ll be gone from restaurants.

Find out how you can participate in the movement to eliminate plastic bags!

Top 10 Ways to Participate

  1. BRING YOUR OWN BAG!  There are many different styles and materials to choose from, including bags that stuff into a little sack that fits nicely in your purse or backpack.
  2. Encourage your family, friends, and neighbors to do the same – make bringing your own bag a habit.
  3. Sign the Pledge to Say "No" to Plastic Bags!
  4. Visit the City of San Francisco’s Bag Ordinance webpage.
  5. Watch The Bay vs. The Bag and share the link with your friends.
  6. Learn the facts about the impacts of plastic bags on the Bay.
  7. “Like” Save The Bay on Facebook to connect with others that support plastic bag bans
  8. Read our Wonky Wednesday blog feature, where we provide updates on Bay Area cities and counties working on plastic bag bans.  Your city may be next!
  9. Follow us on Twitter for daily updates on pollution and bayfill issues.
  10. Find out which Bay Area cities and counties have said “no” to plastic bags.

Facts about San Francisco’s single-use bag ordinance

On October 1st, 2012, the ordinance prohibits all retail stores in San Francisco from distributing single-use plastic bags to customers at the cash register.

The ordinance does not apply to produce bags, bags handed out at the meat counter, or bags for prescription medication.

Stores can provide single-use paper, compostable plastic, and reusable bags to customers for a minimum charge of ten cents per bag.

Customers can easily avoid all bag charges – just bring your own bag!

On July 1st, 2013, restaurants will no longer hand out plastic bags.  They will also be required to charge at least ten cents for bags used for take-out orders; customers will not be charged for bags to take leftovers home.

Stores will provide check-out bags (but not plastic) free of charge for customers participating in the California Special Supplement Program for Women, Infants, and Children and the Supplemental Food Program.

For the past year, the San Francisco Department of the Environment has been reaching out to the community about the ordinance and its requirements.  City staff have visited 5,000 stores door-to-door to raise awareness and answer questions about the ordinance.  They created informational posters and placards in several languages to educate store employees and customers about the new policy and provided stores with a list of vendors who sell paper, compostable, and reusable bags. 

The city plans to distribute 17,500 free reusable bags to the community.  10,000 bags will be given out between September and November 2012.  Please visit the city’s website, which has a variety of informational resources.