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Reusable Bag Ordinance – Effective April 22, 2013
On Tuesday, January 22, 2013 Menlo Park City Council adopted San Mateo County’s Reusable Bag Ordinance. The ordinance applies to all retail stores in the city starting on April 22nd, 2013 – Earth Day. The ordinance will prohibit all retailers from distributing plastic bags. Retailers can make recycled paper bags available to customers for 10¢ per bag, and will get to keep all revenue earned from bag sales. Enforcement will be managed by San Mateo County Health Department.
A copy of Menlo Park’s Reusable Bag Ordinance can be viewed here. Menlo Park’s ordinance adopts San Mateo County’s Reusable Bag Ordinance by reference, which can be viewed here.
For more information on the Menlo Park process, please contact Environmental Programs at (650) 330-6720 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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Why regulate carryout bags?
Almost twenty billion carryout plastic bags are used in California each year. A small percentage get recycled through take-back programs, but many end up as litter in streets, parks and other public places. The bags easily blow away into waterways, affecting wildlife, and adding to existing marine pollution.
While paper bags are an alternative to plastic bags and can be recycled, they require raw materials (trees) and energy to make, recycle, and transport, contributing to global greenhouse gas emissions and reduced natural resources.
Shopping with reusable bags is a great way to take part in reducing litter and conserving natural resources.
Frequently Asked Questions
What stores does this ordinance affect? What types of bags will be regulated?
All retail stores in the City of Menlo Park will be prohibited from distributing plastic bags, and will charge per recycled paper bag at check-out. Restaurants are exempt from this ordinance. “Protective” plastic or paper bags without handles will still be allowed at no charge for items such as meat, fresh produce, prepared food, or prescription medication at all retail stores.
What types of bags can retailers sell at check-out? How much will they cost?
Retailers may sell paper bags made of at least 40% recycled material for a minimum price of 10¢ per bag. The minimum price will then increases to 25¢ in the year 2015.
How do I keep my bags clean and safe?
- Do not transport raw foods and other food products in the same bag
- Do not use reusable grocery bags for other purposes, such as carrying books or laundry
- Do not store reusable bags in car trunks, as high temperatures can promote bacteria growth
- Wash reusable bags often
Statement by the San Mateo County Health Officer