Choose to Reuse Single Use Carry Out Bags
Keep the sea plastic free!
Every year, up to five trillion petroleum-based plastic bags are used worldwide. Americans use approximately 100 billion plastic bags per year, requiring 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture. The production and disposal of plastic bags causes significant environmental impacts, including contamination of the environment, deaths of thousands of marine animals through ingestion and entanglement, widespread litter and debasement of the urban environment, and increased waste disposal costs. Toxic substances present in plastics are believed to cause death or reproductive failure in fish, shellfish and wildlife, and in humans ingesting fish.
With the intent of eliminating the common use of single-use carry out bags and encouraging the use of reusable bags, Monterey City Code Chapter 14, Article 4 requires (but is not limited to) the following:
- No retail establishment selling perishable or non-perishable goods including, but not limited to, clothing, food, and personal items directly to the customer shall provide a single-use carryout bag to a customer at the check stand, cash register, point of sale or other point of departure for the purpose of transporting food or merchandise out of the establishment except as provided in Section 14-21.
- Public eating establishments - restaurants, take-out food establishments, or any other business receiving 90% or more of its revenue from the sale of food prepared on the premises to be eaten on or off its premises - are not considered retail establishments for the purpose of Article 4.
- Nonprofit charitable re-users or a distinct operating unit of the charitable organization that re-uses and recycles donated goods or materials and receives more than 50% of its revenue from the handling and sale of those donated goods or materials, are not considered retail establishments for the purpose of Article 4.
What is a single-use carryout bag? A bag, other than a reusable or recycled bag, provided at point of sale or departure for the purpose of transporting food or merchandise out of the establishment. Single-use carryout bags do not include bags - maximum of 11x17 inches - without handles provided to the customer to: transport produce or bulk food/meat within a store to point of sale, hold prescription medication, or segregate food or merchandise that could damage or contaminate other food or merchandise when placed together in a bag.
What is a reusable bag? A bag made of cloth or other machine washable fabric that has handles, or a durable plastic bag with handles that is at least 2.25 mils thick, and is specifically designed and manufactured for multiple reuse.
What is a recycled paper bag? A bag containing no old growth fiber and a minimum of 40% post-consumer recycled content, is 100% recyclable, and has printed in a highly visible manner on the outside of the bag the words "reusable" and "recyclable," the name and location of the manufacturer, and
Here's a comprehensive list of FAQ Questions and Answers for both shoppers and retailers.
Printable Bag Ban Flyer
Printable Point of Purchase Card for Retailers
Looking for information on the City of Monterey's disposable food service ware ordinance? See the Environmentally-Friendly Food Packaging page.
Choose to Reuse Single Use Carry Out Bags
Here's what the ordinance does:
- Prohibits all Monterey retail stores from providing customers with single-use plastic carryout (shopping) bags, including those advertised as compostable, biodegradable, photo-degradable or similar.
- Allows retail stores to provide customers with any size recyclable paper or reusable carryout bags.
- Requires retail stores to charge a minimum of 25 cents for paper carryout bags.
- Requires retail stores to show all bag-charges on customer receipts; stores keep all revenue. The charge is not taxed.
- Allows retail stores to provide carryout bags made of plastic 2.25 mils or thicker, with or without charge at their discretion.
- Requires that paper bags to which the charge applies contain at least 40 percent post-consumer recycled fiber and display the minimum recycled content on the outside of the bag.
- Promotes reusable carryout bags as the best alternative to single-use plastic bags.
Exemptions from the ordinance
- Plastic bags used in stores for bulk items or to protect vegetables, meat, fish and poultry, frozen foods, flowers, deli foods and similar where moisture would be a problem are exempt.
- Plastic bags for take-out orders from restaurants are allowed, though use of recyclable paper bags is encouraged.
- Dry-cleaner, newspaper, and door-hanger bags.
- Restaurants or take-out food establishments that receive 90% or more of its revenue from the sale of food that is prepared on premises.
- Non-profit charitable re-users that reuses or recycles donated goods or materials and receives more than 50% of its revenue from the sale of them.
- A retail establishment may provide a customer participating in the California Special Supplement Food Program for women, infants, and children one or more recyclable or reusable bags at no cost.
- A bag made of cloth or other machine washable fabric that has handles.
- Durable plastic bag with handles that is at least 2.25 mils thick, specifically designed and manufactured for reuse.
- Contains no old growth fiber - A minimum of 40% post-consumer recycled content.
- Is 100% recyclable.
- Printed on the outside of the bag in a highly visible manner the words "Reusable" and "Recyclable", name and location of manufacturer and percentage of recycled content.