Plastic Bags Banned in San Francisco

Posted October 5, 2012

Beginning October 1, plastic bags used for "check-out" purposes are banned in all retail establishments in San Francisco. Farmers' markets are considered retail establishments. After speaking with the City's Dept. of Environmnet we have decided to omplement the bag ban over the course of the next month. Beginning November 1, 2012, all producers will be required to supply certified compostable, recyclable or reusable bags to customers. Additionally, producers are required to charge $.10 for supplying a compostable, recyclable or reusable "check-out" bag to customers. The income from bag charges to the customer is not taxable. The goal of the bag ban and of the SF Dept. of Environment is to force customers to bring their own bags to markets, and therefore reduce the number of bags thrown into the waste stream.

There are some exceptions to this rule:

  1. Roll bags may be used for individual loose items (e.g. for weighing apples). However, if a customer uses a bag for multiple items (e.g. apples and grapes), the bag is then considered a "check-out" bag and must be compostable, recyclable or reusable and the customer must be charged 10 cents.
  2. Plastic may be used for containing frozen foods, meat, or fish, whether prepackaged or not.
  3. Plastic may also be used for containing or wrapping flowers, potted plants, or other items where damage or contamination or other goods placed together in the same dampness may be a problem.
  4. Additionally, plastic may be used to contain unwrapped prepared foods or bakery goods.
  5. Producers are not required to charge 10 cents for an accepted "check-out" bag if the purchasing customer is paying partially or wholly with WIC checks or EBT tokens.

You can find further details of the San Francisco Department of the Environment website at

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