Single-Use Bag ordinance Summary

The Single-Use Bag Ordinance (ECMC 2013-03) is intended to reduce the common use of single-use carry out bags and encourage the use of reusable bags by consumers and retailers in El Cerrito.


Effective January 1, 2014, shopping bags will be regulated in El Cerrito in the following ways:
  • Prohibit the free distribution of single-use carryout paper and plastic bags at the point of sale (i.e., check-out) for all retail establishments except restaurants and nonprofit charitable reuse organizations. This includes grocery stores, department stores, clothing stores, liquor stores, book stores, specialty stores, drug stores, convenience stores, etc. Note: Restaurants, take-out food establishments, or any other businesses that receive their revenue primarily from the sale of food cooked or otherwise prepared at the establishment would be exempt from the ordinance.
  • Prohibit single-use plastic bags provided free to customers at the check-out stand for the purpose of holding the customer’s purchases. This ordinance does not distinguish among types of plastic or types of plastic bags beyond their ability to be reused multiple times.
  • Allow reusable plastic carryout bags if the bags are intended and identified as reusable as defined in the proposed ordinance
  • An exception to the ban on single-use bags would be made for paper bags containing at least 40 percent recycled content, as long as the retail establishment charges at least five cents for each bag.
  • An exception to the ban on single-use bags would be made for plastic or paper bags that are used by customers or the retail establishment to protect or contain raw meat, fresh produce, food prepared at the establishment, or other goods that must be protected from moisture, damage, or contamination, and that are typically placed inside a carryout bag at the point of sale.


Retailers or consumers who have any questions about these new regulations are encouraged to call the El Cerrito Operations + Environmental Services Division at 510-215-4350.