Salinas Reusable Bag Ordinance

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News Date: 
February 1, 2017
A canvas bag filled with fruit

Would it surprise you to learn that Californians use over 19 billion plastic bags a year? As we all know, these bags blow in the wind, litter our streets, and could continue to harm our environment for 1,000 years –the time it takes them to degrade.  

In response to the cost to our community, the Salinas City Council adopted a Reusable Bag Ordinance that prohibits the distribution of single-use carryout bags and requires a minimum charge for the distribution of reusable or recyclable bags.

The intent of the law is to:
1) promote a shift towards reusable bags;
2) ban thin-film, single-use carryout plastic bags;
3) reduce the consumption of natural resources;
4) decrease the number of bags going to landfills, and
5) reduce litter in our community.   

If you operate a store in the City of Salinas, you are required to meet the City’s regulation.

What You Need to Know

The ordinance applies to any retail establishment selling perishable or non-perishable foods, goods, clothing, or personal items. Retailers that are exempt from the ordinance include restaurants and other public eating establishments, non-profit thrift stores, and establishments producing a service, e.g. dry cleaners and newspaper home delivery. 

Bags without handles that are used to hold prescription medications dispensed from a pharmacy are not considered single-use carryout bags and are also exempt from the ordinance.

  • Stores may not distribute single-use carryout bags beginning April 1, 2015.
  • Stores may provide recycled paper or reusable bags (including durable plastic bags) for a minimum charge of ten (10) cents each.
  • Stores must itemize bag sales on customer receipts. The 10-cent charge is not subject to sales tax. Stores retain the money collected from bag sales.
  • Stores may provide customers with protective bags (paper or plastic without handles) at no additional charge for use within the store to transport items to the cashier.
  • Protective bags include bags for meat, produce, prescriptions, and bulk products, such as nails or screws.
  • Reusable bags sold on or after April 1, 2015 must have handles, be made of machine- washable fabric or be a durable plastic bag at least 4.0 mils thick.
  • Paper bags must be made from a minimum of 40% post-consumer recycled material.
  • Stores may provide paper or reusable bags at no charge to customers paying for goods with Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), CalFresh, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or other food stamp cards. 
  • Stores must maintain accurate records of the purchase and sale of any recycled paper bags and retain these records for a minimum of one year from the date of sale.