On January 22, 2013, the Menlo Park City Council adopted San Mateo County's reusable bag ordinance, which mandated a minimum charge of 10 cents per recycled paper bag or reusable bag provided at checkout.
As of January 1, 2015, the minimum charge increased to 25 cents per reusable bag. The ordinance applies to all retail stores in the City starting on January 1, 2015, and retailers may keep all revenue earned from bag sales.
The purpose of the ordinance is to protect the local environment by reducing waste, conserving resources, and protecting the bay from plastic bag litter. Enforcement will be managed by San Mateo County Health Department.
Almost 20 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.
How to be in compliance
Retailers may offer recycled paper bags to customers for 10 cents per bag. The paper bags must meet the following requirements:
Made from at least 40% recycled material
Must have the percentage of recycled material printed boldly
Must have "Recyclable" and "Reusable" printed boldly
Must have the name and location of the manufacturer printed boldly (San Mateo County will mail a list of bag manufacturers to all retailers)
Cash registers should be programmed to show the itemized sale of recycled paper bags on the customer sales receipt. All revenue from bag sales will be kept by retailers.
Retailers must keep complete and accurate records of the purchase and sale of recycled paper bags by their store, for a minimum period of 3 years from the date of purchase and sale. The records need to be available for potential inspection at the retail store's address.