SF Checkout Bag Ordinance

First city in the U.S. to ban plastic bags in food establishments and retailers (Checkout Bag Ordinance)


How IT can benefit you

San Francisco shoppers used 180 million bags a year.  Plastic litter ends up in our water and breaks into toxic microplastics that end up in the flesh (tissue) of fish people eat.  And cats,  turtles, and other animals accidentally eat plastic bags and choke, or their stomach gets lined with the bag so they cannot eat, or they get poisoned by plastic.  That's partly why the city required all food establishments and retail stores to:

  • Not give out single-use plastic checkout bags.  
  • Charge a $0.10 minimum to customers on all compliant checkout bags which are compostable plastic with the Biodegradable Products Institute certification logo, paper labeled with 40% post-consumer recycled content, or washable and reusable for at least 125 uses.  Stores keep the charge.
  • Display the $0.10 charge separately on the customer receipt.
  • Not charge food assistance recipients.

Why this is a leading policy

San Francisco was the first city in the U.S. to ban single-use plastic bags.  As of 2015, over 130 jurisdictions in California have followed.  Unlike the Los Angeles county ban, it also applies to food establishments. 


To reduce the number of single-use plastic bags and incentivize the use of reusable bags.

Who can take action

Help non-compliant retailers and food establishments get a friendly reminder.


The $0.10 charge per bag reduced the number of disposable bags used by over 70% and reduced trash in the streets.


Jack Macy, Commercial Zero Waste Coordinator at San Francisco Department of the Environment, (415) 355-3751, jack.macy@sfgov.org

Last Updated

August 14, 2015