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Bring Your Own Bag
Bring Your Own Bag Ordinance Update
San José is the largest city in the state to ban plastic carryout bags.

Bring Your Own Bag OrdinanceThank you for shopping with a reusable bag! There has been less plastic bag litter found in our streets and local creeks since the Bring Your Own Bag ordinance began on January 1, 2012. View the results of the Bring Your Own Bag ordinance.

Because of this, the minimum charge for a paper bag at all retail stores in San José will remain 10 cents. The bag ordinance prohibits single-use, carryout plastic bags provided at checkout by all San José grocery stores, convenience stores, hardware stores, pharmacies, as well as local, national, and mobile retailers. 

 If you have questions about the Bring Your Own Bag ordinance, call (408) 534-BYOB (2962) or email .

A customer and store clerk at check outCity Ordinance
The ordinance (Refer to Chapter 9.10, Part 13) began on January 1, 2012, with the following provisions:
  • Grocery stores, pharmacies, small and large retailers can no longer provide plastic carryout bags at checkout.
  • Stores may still provide paper bags made of 40% post-consumer recycled material and charge a minimum of 10 cents for each bag. The charge will be retained by the store.
  • Customers purchasing food with WIC and CalFresh “food stamps” may be provided a recycled content paper bag at no cost for the first two years of the ban.

Resources for Retailers 
one-stop-shop to help retailers understand how the ordinance affects them may be found on this website. 

Brown paper bag, plastic bag, and reusable bagShopping with a Reusable Bag is the Best Choice
A high-quality reusable bag has the potential to replace over 600 single-use plastic bags over its lifetime, significantly reducing plastic bag litter. Plastic bags are a common litter item found in creek cleanups. Paper bags are also problematic, taking 14 million trees each year in the United States to produce a year's supply of paper bags for retail use. Reusable bags reduce litter and conserve natural resources.

Recycle Plastic Bags at Local Grocery and Pharmacy Stores
Of the plastic bags collected at curbside, only 4% are recycled, the rest are landfilled or become litter, which is washed down storm drains and into our creeks and ocean. The City of San José no longer collects plastic bags at curbside for recycling because single-use plastic carryout bags interfere with the recycling facility’s machinery and often jam the screens used to separate materials, which is expensive to repair. The City estimates the cost at $1 million a year.

Take your single-use plastic bags back to your local grocery or pharmacy stores for recycling.

Where can I find a copy of the Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Single-use Carryout Bag Ordinance?
The Final EIR is made up of 2 documents: a) the Draft EIR and b) the First Amendment to the Draft EIR (including comment letters on the EIR). These documents can be found at the City’s Planning Department website, in their Environmental Review, EIR Library.

Visit the Planning Department EIR Library, then scroll down to Single-use Carryout Bags.