San Jose Plastic Bag Ban Ordinance

DRAFT--Contact the Office of the City Clerk at (408)535-1260 or for final document.


WHEREAS, on November 17, 2010, the Planning Commission of the City of San José, pursuant to the provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act of 1970, together with guidelines promulgated pursuant thereto and Title 21 of the San José Municipal Code, all as amended to date, certified that certain environmental impact report prepared for a Single-Use Carryout Bag Ordinance, under File No. PP-09-193 (the “EIR”); and

WHEREAS, on December 14, 2010, the City Council of the City of San Jose conducted an administrative hearing on an Appeal of the Planning Commission’s certification of the EIR for the Single-Use Carryout Bag Ordinance, under File No. PP-09-193, to add Part 13 to Chapter 9.10 of Title 9 of the San Jose Municipal Code to ban single-use carryout bags, and prohibit the free distribution of recycled paper bags by retail establishments; and

WHEREAS, the City Council of the City of San José is the decision-making body for the approval and adoption of this Ordinance; and

WHEREAS, this Council has adopted Resolution No. __________ setting forth the findings of the decision-making body in connection with the environmental impacts identified in the EIR in connection with the approval and adoption of this Ordinance;


SECTION 1. Chapter 9.10 of Title 9 of the San Jose Municipal Code is hereby amended by adding a new Part to be numbered and entitled and to read as follows:

Part 13 Single-Use Carryout Bag

9.10.2010 Definitions
The definitions set forth in this Section shall govern the application and interpretation of this Part 13.
A. “Customer” means any Person obtaining goods from a Retail Establishment.
B. “Nonprofit Charitable Reuser” means a charitable organization, as defined in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, or a distinct operating unit or division of the charitable organization, that reuses and recycles donated goods or materials and receives more than fifty percent (50%) of its revenues from the handling and sale of those donated goods or materials.
C. “Person” means any natural person, firm, corporation, partnership, or other organization or group however organized.
D. “Prepared Food” means foods or beverages which are prepared on the premises by cooking, chopping, slicing, mixing, freezing, or squeezing, and which require no further preparation to be consumed. Prepared Food does not include any raw, uncooked meat product or fruits or vegetables which are chopped, squeezed, or mixed.
E. “Recycled Paper Bag” means a paper bag provided at the check stand, cash register, point of sale, or other point of departure for the purpose of transporting food or merchandise out of the establishment that contains no old growth fiber and a minimum of forty percent (40%) post-consumer recycled content; is one hundred percent (100%) recyclable; and has printed in a highly visible manner on the outside of the bag the words “Reusable” and “Recyclable,” the name and location of the manufacturer, and the percentage of post-consumer recycled content.
F. “Public Eating Establishment” means a restaurant, take-out food establishment, or any other business that receives 90% or more of its revenue from the sale of Prepared Food to be eaten on or off its premises.
G. “Retail Establishment” means any commercial establishment that sells perishable or nonperishable goods including, but not limited to, clothing, food, and personal items directly to the Customer; and is located within or doing business within the geographical limits of the City of San José. Retail Establishment does not include Public Eating Establishments or Nonprofit Charitable Reusers.
H. “Reusable Bag” means either a bag made of cloth or other machine washable fabric that has handles, or a durable plastic bag with handles that is at least 2.25 millimeters thick and is specifically designed and manufactured for multiple reuse.
I. “Single-Use Carryout Bag” means a bag other than a Reusable Bag provided at the check stand, cash register, point of sale or other point of departure for the purpose of transporting food or merchandise out of the establishment. Single-Use Carryout Bags do not include bags provided solely to transport produce, bulk food or meat from a produce, bulk food or meat department within a store to the point of sale.

9.10.2020 Single-Use Carryout Bag
No Retail Establishment shall provide a Single-Use Carryout Bag to a Customer, at the check stand, cash register, point of sale or other point of departure for the purpose of transporting food or merchandise out of the establishment except as provided in this Section.
B. On or before December 31, 2013, a Retail Establishment may make available for sale to a Customer a Recycled Paper Bag for a minimum charge of ten cents ($0.10).
C. On or after January 1, 2014, a Retail Establishment may make available for sale to a Customer a Recycled Paper Bag for a minimum charge of twenty-five cents ($0.25).
D. Notwithstanding this Section, no Retail Establishment may make available for sale a Recycled Paper Bag unless the amount of the sale of the Recycled Paper Bag is separately itemized on the sale receipt.
E. A Retail Establishment may provide a Customer participating in the California Special Supplement Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children pursuant to Article 2 (commencing with Section 123275) of Chapter 1 of Part 2 of Division 106 of the Health and Safety Code; and a Customer participating in the Supplemental Food Program pursuant to Chapter 10 (commencing with Section 15500) of Part 3 of Division 9 of the California Welfare and Institutions Code, with one (1) or more Recycled Paper Bags at no cost through December 31, 2013.

9.10.2030 Recordkeeping and Inspection
Every Retail Establishment shall keep complete and accurate record or documents of the purchase and sale of any Recycled Paper Bag by the Retail Establishment, for a minimum period of three (3) years from the date of purchase and sale, which record shall be available for inspection at no cost to the City during regular business hours by any City employee authorized to enforce this Part. Unless an alternative location or method of review is mutually agreed upon, the records or documents shall be available
at the Retail Establishment address. The provision of false information including incomplete records or documents to the City shall be a violation of this Section.

SECTION 2. This ordinance shall be effective on January 1, 2012.

10 Responses to "San Jose Plastic Bag Ban Ordinance"

  1. John   2013/03/18 at 3:38 pm

    It’s just another way for San Jose to collect more revenue from people leaving here. Probably they still can’t recover after spending (or stealing) $500 millions on this idiotic City Hall they build in 2005.

  2. Joyce Y.   2012/05/07 at 2:34 am

    Consumers did just fine before plastic bags appeared in the 1960’s. They did not rant and rave about me, me, and my convenience blah blah. One day you will realize the world’s future and our children’s right to a functioning planet, not awash in the toxic dust that our plastics become in 500 years (never disappearing, there is no “away” for plastics) overrides “me”, my “rights” and “freedoms” (=my convenience). We will not die, we will not suffer by bringing our own bags. Our grandparents did the same, and their grandparents. What would they think of our selfishness?

  3. Joe Clementine   2012/03/26 at 3:25 am

    I don’t like plastic bags. We should make them iiileeegalll maaaan.

  4. Dana Juncker   2012/02/14 at 4:25 pm

    This has to be a violation of personal rights. Please people, realize that if they can tell a store what to charge for a bag, they can tell a store what to charge for a loaf of bread. These counsil members obviously have no regard for personal rights and will not stop here. Calling all class action lawsuit lawyers!!!!! Help!!!

  5. Jill Barrett   2012/01/27 at 5:40 pm

    The City of San Jose claims they exceed the allowable amount of trash in the water ways and streets. They claim that residents of SJ are responsible for the trash. I have witnessed for years how Waste Management lifts up the garbage cans to dump trash in the truck and the wind pulls it out. The City claims it is the residents, but how can they know that the plastic bag originated in San Jose? If our residents are not educated about the dangers of plastic bags, why do you allow the people on welfare to have access to free bags? Is that discrimination?
    And finally, have you ever looked into people’s cars when you walk thru parking lots? Do you really want someone’s reusable bag from one of those cars on the counter in our supermarket? Do we really want to introduce more bacteria to our environments? How do we save resources washing and drying bags?
    Where is there a good lawyer who can fight this ridiculous law back into the plastic bag? Really City of San Jose, what are you thinking?

  6. Ted Duboise   2012/01/08 at 9:54 pm

    Your local Sam’s club sells them in 3 choices of quantity.

  7. Dennis   2012/01/07 at 10:05 pm

    Actually it does. If I can’t get bags from a retailer then where the heck would I get them? If I spontaneously stop in at a store and buy some stuff, I’m now not allowed to buy a limited number of convenience bags to carry that stuff. How is that guaranteeing my rights? The right to engage in free commerce has been restricted, not guaranteed. I’m expecting to see either a constitutional challenge, or a loophole in which I can “buy” a box of bags “off the shelf”, take a few out, and “sell” the rest to the next person in line (who does the same, and so on).
    See: Plastic Bag Ban Limits Individual Freedoms

  8. Ted Duboise   2012/01/02 at 5:37 pm

    Hello Andrew,
    The ordinance does not prevent citizens from buying and using their own plastic bags. You just have to remember to bring it with you. The law prevents retailers from providing plastic bags.

    See: Plastic Bag Ban Guarantees Individual Rights

  9. Andrew OBrien   2012/01/02 at 8:44 am

    Why does every decision the government makes have to cost me money?

    Safeway either buys or produces these bags and hands them out to its customers for free. But, now the customer is punished by being forced to pay for the paper bag that was free yesterday, Not to mention the fact that the store is spending less on plastic bags. They don’t just save money, they make money!

    An individual can still buy 1000 plastic bags for 15.00$, and I intend to, because I save 8.5 cents per bag. And just for spite, I feel like throwing them all in the Guadalupe River!

  10. Pingback: San Jose, Calif Single-Use Carryout Bag Ordinance » Plastic Bag Regulations - Plastic Bag Legislation

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