L.A. County Carryout Bag Ordinance
Prevent pollution. Reuse your bags.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has adopted an ordinance banning single use plastic
carryout bags at stores in the County unincorporated areas, while requiring they charge 10¢
for each paper carryout bag sold to a customer. The 10-cent charge on paper bags is not subject to State sales tax and will be retained by
stores for use in complying with the ordinance.
The intent of the ordinance is to promote the use of reusable bags over single use plastic and paper carryout
bags in order to reduce the negative economic and environmental impacts associated with single use bags. This
is one of over 70 single use plastic carryout bag bans adopted in California alone. And approximately 50 jurisdictions around the country have also adopted carryout bag restrictions.
Within Los Angeles County alone, there have been 11 incorporated cities who adopted bag ordinances: Beverly Hills, Calabasas, Culver City, Glendale, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, Pasadena, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood.
September 2014 - California is one step closer in passing the first state-wide plastic bag ban. In the last week of August, the State Assembly and Senate passed SB270. It now awaits Governor Brown to sign.
July 2014 - The City of LA bag ordinance expands to all food retailers on July 1st. Stores located in communities within the City are affected by the City ordinance. You may view the City of LA map to confirm whether stores are within city limits.
June 2014 - Below are the latest reports regarding paper bag usage, which show that even as more municipalities in the region have adopted and implemented bag restrictions, paper bag usage has largely stabilized and continues to be lower than prior to adoption of the Ordinance.
(Note: Reduction of single use bags was determined by comparing extrapolated Quarterly Report data with reported plastic bag usage in 2009 and estimated paper bag usage based on Bag Usage Survey conducted for the County Bag EIR.)
April 2014 - Happy Earth Day! More jurisdictions are adopting carryout bag ordinances, including the local city of Beverly Hills. In reflection, the County ordinance has impacted stores to continue reducing their usage of carryout bags. By the end of 2013, nearly 168,000 paper bags were provided per large store annually since the ordinance came into effect, and approximately $8,800 were received per large store annually from the paper bag charge.
December 2013 - With participation of County residents and nearly 800 affected retail stores, the ordinance has resulted in large stores continuing to maintain over a 90% reduction in single use bag usage compared to plastic bag usage prior to adoption of the Ordinance. This significant reduction in consumption of single use bags helps reduce bag litter and other environmental impacts at the source. As the season of giving approaches, we continue to give a helpful reminder to residents to use your reusable bags for all your shopping needs.
On June 26, 2013, the Mayor of the City of Los Angeles signed an ordinance into law banning plastic bags at stores in the City, a day after it had passed the City Council on a 9 to 1 vote. That makes nearly two-thirds of all Los Angeles County residents plastic bag free! Click here to view a map of areas in the County under a carryout bag ordinance.
After reviewing submitted reports for store data through the end of 2012, it has been found that large stores have continued to reduce their paper bag usage, by 10% since the ban was implemented.
| May 2013
The County Ordinance has withstood all legal challenges, including the latest filed by a large manufacturer of plastic bags based outside California, and four California taxpayers, under Proposition 26. On May 15, 2013, the State Supreme Court denied review of the case. Per the original ruling, the charge on paper bags is not an invalid special tax.
On May 14, 2013 the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to support Senate Bill 405 (Padilla), a bill that would implement a statewide plastic bag prohibition modeled similarly to the County’s bag reduction ordinance. For more information, please visit http://scvnews.com.
March 2013 - From data reported by large stores for the first five quarters, we have found a 19% reduction in paper bag use since the ban came into effect. More than half of the small stores have submitted the quarterly report for the second and third quarters of 2012 and a majority submitted their first quarter report. So far, small stores are also experiencing a continuing reduction in paper bag usage.
September 2012 – County Staff Update [PDF, 33KB] - To build on information provided below in our July update and to address recent news reports related to an industry-funded
study regarding the impacts of the County’s single use bag ordinance, we present the
following results and additional information regarding the success of the County's Ordinance as it affects stores in the unincorporated areas. It is important to note that the
industry-funded study’s conclusions appear to be based on only 3% of survey respondents, while the results below are
summaries of reported information that are required to be submitted from all stores.
All large stores affected by the ordinance submitted their reports, including paper bag data, for the first 3 quarters of the Ordinance, as
required. A majority of affected small stores have also submitted reports for the 1st quarter of this year and additional reports are being submitted. The following overall conclusions can be made from the first full year of ordinance
implementation at large stores:
From quarter to quarter, paper bag usage continues to decline with a 16 percent overall reduction since the ban went into effect. There are stores
that have reported their change in carryout bag policy to no longer use paper bags.
- Approximately 125,000 paper bags were provided per store annually (in contrast to approximately 2.2 million single use plastic bags provided
per store annually prior to the Ordinance going into effect)
- Approximately $6,400 were received per store annually from the paper bag charge
The ordinance affects over 1 million residents and about 800 stores, and to date, Public Works received only about 200 inquiries from stores
and residents after the Ordinance took effect. Stores contacted Public Works to obtain
clarification about the Ordinance, confirm whether the Ordinance was applicable to them, and report nearby stores they believed were not complying
with the Ordinance. Residents contacted Public Works to ask questions about aspects of the Ordinance (e.g., why pay for paper bags) and report
stores that they believed were not complying with the Ordinance. Staff made site visits to affected stores to observe or assist them into
compliance with the Ordinance.
Prior to the adoption of the County ordinance, the County held stakeholder meetings to make stores aware of efforts underway that may impact their
operations, sales, and employment. This started back in 2007 when San Francisco first adopted a Carryout Bag Ordinance. To learn about the County’s
efforts prior to adopting the Ordinance, click here.
Department of Public Works conducted the following various methods of outreach to stores that would be affected by the County Ordinance. Prior
to both effective dates of the County Bag Ordinance, the About The Bag campaign conducted reusable bag giveaways at stores and community
events to help residents be aware of the ordinance and help them prepare for it. Press conferences were also held to promote the upcoming ban.
The About The Bag Eco-Elf campaign distributed reusable bags at participating stores and libraries, and ran a sweepstakes for residents pledging
to use reusable shopping bags. Since the campaign, over 300 residents have made the
The County considered possible impacts of the ban on store operations and sales, and proposed strategies
(best management practices) to assist stores to comply with the Ordinance.
Since the ban has been in effect,
local reusable bag companies have started to emerge to
take advantage of this growing market.
Reuse potential for plastic bags are significantly lower compared to that of reusable bags. Before the ordinance, plastics were typically reused
only a couple of times if at all, but then still landfilled. The decline of plastic bag purchases by stores in the unincorporated areas reduces the
potential for these thin and lightweight bags to litter the County and impact the landscape and wildlife therein. To learn more about
environmental impacts of single use plastic bags, click here.
July 2012 - As we approach the one year anniversary of the ordinance at large stores, we are pleased to announce the Ordinance has so
far resulted in a 95% reduction in overall single use bag usage (both plastic and paper), which includes eliminating all
single use plastic bags and a significant reduction of over 30% in paper bag usage. We anticipate a similar result
as the ordinance is implemented at smaller stores. Keep up the good work Los Angeles County!