Single-use plastic carryout bag means any bag made predominantly of plastic derived from either petroleum or a biologically-based source (including compostable and biodegradable bags). This does not include reusable bags, produce or product bags (bags used to carry meat, vegetables or other products to the point-of-sale).
The intent of the Single-Use Carryout Bag Ordinance is to significantly reduce the environmental impacts related to single-use plastic carry out bags and promote a shift towards the use of reusable bags.
- They are consumed in extremely high volumes. Approximately 47 million bags are used in Santa Barbara annually.
- They are produced from non-renewable resources.
- They are designed to be disposable (rather than reusable).
- They are difficult to recycle. Less than 5% of the 20 billion plastic bags used annually in California are actually recycled.
- They become litter that can enter storm drains and watersheds or may be blown directly into the ocean by wind. Once in the coastal habitat, marine species can ingest them or become entangled in the bag leading to fatal results.
Are plastic produce bags (used to carry meat and produce to the register) banned from being sold or distributed at stores?
Are plastic trash can liners banned from being sold at stores?
No. Paper bags distributed for physician prescribed prescriptions are not regulated. However, carryout bags that a customer obtains for other purchased items would still be affected.
Compostable and biodegradable bags have all the same fly-away tendencies as bags made out of light-weight plastic. Therefore, they are as likely to become litter or marine debris. Compostable bags are made to compost in an industrial composting facility, not in the natural environment.
If you can comfortably carry your purchases out by hand, that is one option; or you can repackage your goods into a shopping cart or basket and unload them directly into your vehicle (and then return the cart or basket).
Customers have a variety of options available to bypass the cost of purchasing paper and reusable bags, such as:
- Bring a reusable bag or basket you already own, or avoid a bag altogether on small purchases like a single item.
- Obtain free reusable bags that are often given out by businesses and community organizations at special events as promotional items.
- Residents participating in supplemental food programs are eligible to receive either free reusable bags or recyclable paper bags or both, at the store’s option.
Woven or cloth reusable bags are not recyclable. The best option for this type of bag is to donate it to a second hand store if it is still in usable condition or repurpose the material. Reusable plastic bags and single use plastic bags should be bagged together and either a) brought back to a major grocery store and placed in the bag recycling receptacle or b) placed in your trash. For more on plastic bag disposal please read this article.
All regulated stores must provide at the point of sale, free of charge, either reusable bags or recyclable paper carryout bags or both, at the store's option to any customer participating in California supplemental nutrition and feeding programs.
All monies collected by a store under this Ordinance may be retained by the store and may be used for:
- Costs associated with compliance.
- Actual costs of providing recyclable paper carryout bags.
- Costs associated with a store's educational materials or education campaign encouraging the use of reusable bags, if any.