Reusable Bag Ordinance

Break the Bag Habit!


Save The Bay estimates that over one million plastic bags enter the Bay each year. Up to 90% of floating debris is plastic, and that plastic never biodegrades.

The bags entangle, suffocate, and poison at least 267 known animal species worldwide. All of this damage for only an average use of 12 minutes. (Source: Save the Bay)

Bag Fee


As of January 1, 2015, the fee for paper and reusable bags is 25 cents per bag. San Mateo County has provided research on some of the results of the bag implementation. The full 2014 San Mateo County Bag Report includes some impressive results, such as an 84% decrease in bag orders from retailers and a 66% decrease in people buying a bag that they would have received for free in the past.
Colorful Reusable Bags and Car Seat

Implementation

Implementation began on June 6, 2013 in the City of San Mateo. The City of San Mateo and the County of San Mateo educated and provided opportunities for retailers and grocers to comply with the reusable bag ordinance. Also, delis that have not already made the switch to non-polystyrene containers will have time to use their stock of polystyrene before enforcement in the City of San Mateo commences.


Summary


Retail shoppers will have the option of bringing their own reusable bags. Retailers will charge a minimum of $.10 for a requested recycled paper bag or reusable bag. Exemptions apply for restaurants and nonprofit charitable organizations, as well as businesses that use produce and meat bags, garment cleaning bags and pharmaceutical bags. Please read the fact sheet for full details.


Community Resources


Top 10 Tips for "Healthy" & Long-Lasting Reusable Bags
Top 5 Reasons to BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag!)



Business Resources

We have signage in English, Chinese, Spanish, Japanese and Tagalog giving a brief overview of the bag ordinance.

English-Chinese
English-Spanish
English-Japanese
English_Tagalog

Reusable Bag Ordinance Video!

Watch the County's animation video of the environmental impacts of single use plastic bags and paper bags! Thanks to the talented students of San Jose State who created this educational video.
Reusable Bag Policy Enforcement
San Mateo County Environmental Health Services is responsible for enforcing the reusable bag ordinance within San Mateo County. If you have questions or concerns about code enforcement, they can be reached at (650) 372-6200.

More Information


City of San Mateo's Reusable Bag Ordinance (references County ordinance)
Reusable Bag Ordinance: Fact Sheet
City of San Mateo's Reusable Bag Ordinance Notice of Intent (NOI)
City of San Mateo's Reusable Bag Ordinance Negative Declaration
Polystyrene Ban: "Green" Vendor Listing