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Plastic Bag Ordinance

Certain retailers in Long Beach no longer distribute plastic bags. Customers are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags to help reduce litter on our streets and preserve landfill space. Farmer's markets must also comply with this new ordinance.

Thank you for efforts you may already have in place.

The purpose of the ordinance adopted by Long Beach City Council is to:

  • Reduce litter in our neighborhoods
  • Reduce plastic debris in our waterways and stormdrains
  • Reduce waste transported to landfills

Here are simple steps retailers can take to comply with the new ordinance:

1. Provide paper bags for sale

  • Read the bag ordinance for a full understanding of retailer responsibility.
  • Offer paper bags available for purchase that are in accordance with ordinance requirements.
  • Maintain records of bags sold for a period of three years from date of sale.

2. Educate your employees about the ordinance

  • Provide employee training that includes a review of ordinance requirements, best practices for responding to customer questions and how to properly fill a variety of reusable totes. Ask employees to encourage customers to use reusable totes.
  • Download and print an employee poster and resident FAQs for employees to refer to.
  • Download and print register signs to help communicate ordinance information to your customers.

3. Communicate to your customers 

  • Remind customers that plastic bags are no longer be available and that a 10¢ fee will be charged for each paper bag.
  • Encourage shoppers to bring reusable totes next time they shop and thank the ones that do.
  • Place register signs and in-store posters in prominent places for customers to read.
  • Place bag reminder signs near entrance doors.

Ordinance Summary

City of Long Beach
Ordinance No. ORD-11-0009
Municipal Code Chapter 8.62: Plastic Carryout Bags

Phase I - Effective August 1, 2011: applies to supermarkets and large retail stores with a pharmacy, with gross annual sales of two million dollars, or a store of at least ten thousand (10,000) square feet of retail space.

Phase II - Effective January 1, 2012: applies to smaller grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, and food marts.

This prohibition does not apply to produce or product bags.

Key components of Long Beach ban include:

  • Stores cannot provide carryout plastic bags to customers.
  • Stores must provide either recyclable paper or reusable bags.
  • Any store that provides a recyclable paper carryout bag to a customer must charge the customer ten cents ($0.10) for each bag provided.
  • All stores must indicate on the customer receipt the number of recyclable paper carryout bags provided and the total amount charged for the bags.

There are no restrictions to prohibit customers from using any type of bag they bring themselves, or carrying away goods that are not placed in a bag.

All stores must provide free recyclable paper bags or reusable bags to any customer participating in the California Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children, or in the Supplemental Food Program.


  • First violation: $100 per day
  • Second violation: $200 per day
  • Third violation: $500 per day

Please view actual ordinance text for definitions, details and clarification of information provided in this summary. ORDINANCE


  • Why has the City of Long Beach banned plastic carryout bags?

    • They are produced from non-renewable resources
    • They are designed to be disposable, rather than reusable
    • They are not likely to be recycled – less than 5% of the 19 billion plastic bags used annually in California are recycled
    • They are a significant and visible component of litter
    • They pollute our local waterways
    • They are a hazard to wildlife
  • When does the carryout bag ban begin?

    • August 1, 2011 – Supermarkets and Large Retail Stores with a Pharmacy
    • January 1, 2012 – Farmers Markets, Convenience Stores, Food Marts and other Pharmacies
  • What is a reusable bag?

    • A reusable bag has handles and is made out of durable materials specifically designed and manufactured for multiple re-use and meets all of the requirements of Ordinance Subsection J of Section 8.62.010.
  • What about reusable plastic bags?

    According to the City of Long Beach Ordinance (section 8.62.010) a reusable plastic bag distributed by a store must meet all of the following requirements: 

    • the capability of carrying at least 22 pounds 125 times for at least 175 feet;
    • have a minimum volume of 15 liters;
    • be machine washable or made from a material that can be cleaned or disinfected;
    • cannot contain lead, cadmium, or any other heavy metal in toxic amounts;
    • have printed on the bag, or on a tag that is permanently affixed to the bag, the name of the manufacturer, the location where the bag was manufactured, a statement that the bag does not contain lead, cadmium, or any other heavy metal in toxic amounts, and the percentage of postconsumer recycled material used, if any; and
    • if made of plastic, be at least 2.25 mils thick.

    More information on where you can get bags tested or where you can purchase bags that are in compliance:
    Los Angeles County resource page. 

  • How does my store comply with the Carryout Bag Ordinance?

    • Cease providing customers plastic carryout bags by the effective date that applies
    • Make available to customers reusable carryout bags or recyclable paper carryout bags
    • Charge customers using recyclable paper carryout bags 10 cents per bag starting on the effective date that applies
    • Indicate the number of recyclable paper carryout bags provided and the total amount charged for bags on customer receipts
  • Are there any exceptions to this ban?

    • For any customer participating either in the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) or in the Supplemental Food Program, stores are required to provide at the point of sale, free of charge, either reusable bags or recyclable paper carryout bags or both, at the store’s option.
  • Is the 10-cent charge per paper bag taxable?

    • No, the State Board of Equalization has indicated that the 10-cent charge on paper carryout bags will NOT be subject to State sales tax.
  • What is the 10-cent charge used for?

    All monies collected by a store under the Long Beach Ordinance will be retained by the store and may be used for:

    • Costs associated with Ordinance compliance
    • Actual costs of providing recyclable paper carryout bags
    • Costs associated with a store’s educational materials or education campaign encouraging the use of reusable carryout bags, if any