Santa Cruz County’s Plastic Bag Ban Begins March 20

Santa Cruz County’s Plastic Bag Ban Begins March 20

Santa Cruz County, California passed it's Bag Reduction Ordinance on September 20, 2011. The ordinance will take effect and be in force on March 20, 2012, six months from the date of adoption as set forth in the ordinance, for all retailers within the unincorporated County of Santa Cruz.

The ban will affect all retailers except restaurants, including county contractors and special events promoters, and their vendors, while performing under a county contract or permit.

The Bag Reduction Ordinance prohibits all retailers from providing plastic carryout bags to customers at the point of sale. Further, the ordinance requires all retailers to charge a minimum ten-cent fee for each single-use paper checkout bag provided to customers at the point of sale. Paper bags must be recyclable paper bags containing a minimum of 40% post-consumer recycled content.

There are exemptions in the ordinance.  The ban nor the fee would apply to:

  • Bags used to protect meat or produce
  • Plastic bags used to protect ice cream
  • Paper bags used to protect greeting cards
  • Paper bags used to weigh candy

The paper bag charge will not apply to customers who participate in:

  • California Special Supplemental Food Program
  • State Department of Social Services Food Stamp Program
  • Other government-subsidized purchase programs for low-income residents.

Read the full text of the Single-Use Bag Reduction Ordinance, along with related items, at

Santa Cruz County, with a population of over 262,000, is part of the San Francisco Bay Area Combined Statistical Area and is forms the northern coast of Monterey Bay.  The Monterey, California plastic bag ban takes effect May 1st, 2012.(1)

Santa Cruz County website
(1) Wikipedia


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