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Los Altos Reusable Bag Ordinance

In March 2013, the Los Altos City Council adopted a Reusable Bag Ordinance prohibiting the distribution of single-use carryout bags and requiring a minimum charge for the distribution of reusable or recyclable bags. The intent of the Ordinance is to reduce the consumption of natural resources, decrease the number of bags going to landfills and reduce litter in our local waterways.

Ordinance Provisions

The Ordinance applies to any retail establishment selling perishable or non-perishable food, goods, clothing, or personal items directly to the consumer. Retailers that are exempt from the ordinance include restaurants, non-profit thrift stores and establishments providing a service (e.g., dry cleaners and newspaper home delivery).

  • Stores may not distribute single-use carryout bags effective July 4, 2013; but may provide recycled paper or reusable bags for a minimum charge of 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 from bag sales.
  • Stores may provide customers with protective bags (paper or plastic bags 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 July 4, 2013 must have handles, be made of a machine-washable fabric, or be a durable plastic bag at least 2.25 millimeter thick. Paper bags must be made from a minimum 40% postconsumer recycled material.
  • Stores may provide paper or reusable bags at no charge to customers paying for goods with WIC, CalFresh, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or other food stamp cards.

For more detailed information about this ordinance, click here.

Resources for Retailers