Information for Shoppers

Starting on January 1, 2013, grocery stores, supermarkets, convenience stores, liquor stores, drug stores or other entities that sell milk, bread, soda AND snack foods AND/OR alcohol in Alameda County can no longer provide single-use plastic carryout bags at checkout.

  • Affected stores must charge a minimum of $0.10 per bag for each paper bags or reusable bags.
  • Consumers may bring any type of bag to a store for their purchases, and are encouraged to do so.
  • The ordinance does not regulate use of single-use bags used to protect and transport produce, bulk food or meat from within a store to the checkout or cash register.

Why do we have a Reusable Bag Ordinance?

Plastic bags are one of the most common litter items found in our waterways. Plastic pollution is a growing threat to oceans and marine life. Plastic bags often take hundreds of years to break down or decompose, causing a cumulative litter problem. Paper bags are not without their own problems — the paper bag manufacturing process is very resource-intensive.

We estimate that nearly 764 million single-use plastic bags are distributed in Alameda County annually, in addition to more than 100 million paper bags. Roughly 10,000 tons of plastic bags find their way to Alameda County’s landfills every year. Additionally, plastic bags cause processing equipment problems at recycling facilities.

Using reusable bags helps reduce litter and waste, protects creeks and the bay, and conserves natural resources.

For more information see Frequently Asked Questions.


Report Non-Compliant Stores

If you are aware of a store distributing single-use carryout bags, not charging for paper or reusable bags, or not itemizing such sales on your receipt, please complete the Reusable Bag Ordinance Non-Compliance Reporting Form


Tips to Remember Your Reusable 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 of your car.
  • Keep compact reusable bags in a purse, pocket, or backpack.


Clean your own reusable bags

A clean bag is a healthy bag. Click here for details.


Make your own reusable bags

You can make a reusable bag in 10 minutes using just an old t-shirt and a pair of scissors! See the simple instructions.