Plastic Bag Ban Ordinance

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Frequently-Asked Questions

Which stores are affected by the ordinance?

Effective October 17, 2014, all retail stores with gross annual sales of $2,000,000 or more that sell dry groceries, canned goods and some perishable items, and stores of at least 10,000 square feet that have a licensed pharmacy.

The following Novato stores will be affected by Ordinance 1590:


Trader Joes

Grocery Outlet


Whole Foods

Rite Aid


Harvest Market


Safeway (De Long and Hamilton)

CVS (Novato Blvd. and Grant Ave.)

Paradise Foods

In addition, these regulations will become applicable to all convenience markets or liquor stores which sell milk, bread, soda and snack foods, among other items on April 17, 2015.

What must stores do to comply with the ordinance?

1. Do not offer single-use plastic carryout bags at the cash register for customers.

2. Charge at least 10 cents for recycled content paper bags, and make it a separate item on the receipt.

3. Notify customers of the charge. We recommend posting a placard near the register.

4. Make reusable bags available for purchase.

Are all plastic bags banned?

No. Plastic product bags, without handles, used to transport produce, meat or prescriptions are permitted to be provided to customers at no cost.

Must businesses charge for paper bags?

Yes, paper checkout bags may be sold to customers for a minimum fee of 10 cents. Paper pharmaceutical bags and small paper bags for protecting fragile items, like wine bottles, can be provided free of charge. Paper checkout bags provided for sale must contain a minimum of 40% post-consumer recycled material.

How can I avoid paying 10 cents for a paper bag?

Remember to bring your own reusable bag. Here are some tips for getting in the habit and for caring for your reusable bags so they’ll be sanitary and last many years (saving you money!).

How will the ordinance affect low-income residents?

Customers currently enrolled in the California Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) must be provided with paper checkout bags at no charge.

Who keeps the (minimum) 10 cents per bag?

All proceeds from the sale of recycled content paper bags are retained by the store operator to offset the higher costs of paper bags.

Do other cities in Marin County have similar ordinances?

Yes! Check BYOB Marin County to learn about ordinances in each city.

Can I still recycle my clean plastic carryout bags?

Yes. All large grocery stores are still required by state law to collect plastic bags.

How will enforcement occur?

Jurisdictions that have implemented plastic bag ban ordinances have reported excellent compliance from retailers. Following adoption of the ordinance City staff would contact all affected stores to make them aware of the new regulations. After the effective dates of the ordinance City staff will visit affected stores to verify compliance. If you visit a store that you don’t believe is in compliance, please call 415-899-8928 to let our Code Enforcement Division know.

Who can I contact with questions?

Please contact Community Development Director Bob Brown at or 415-899-8938.