California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle)

At-Store Recycling Program

Requirements

The requirements for the At-Store Recycling Program and the regulated community (stores and manufacturers) are found within Public Resources Code (PRC) section 42250-42257 and the California Code of Regulations (CCR) section 17987-17987.6. The following is a general summary to assist with the implementation of the law and program.

Stores

To meet the requirements of the law, stores must provide reusable bags and plastic carryout bag recycling bins that are accessible to consumers. Stores also monitor and track the distribution and collection of plastic carryout bags. They are also required to report annually to the State their purchasing and recycling. The annual report is due to CalRecycle by April 1 and covers the previous calendar year (January 1-December 31). For further information regarding compliance with the law visit the “Compliance Assistance: Frequently Asked Questions” page.

The basic store requirements include the following:

  • All plastic carryout bag provided by the store shall have printed or displayed, in a manner visible to a consumer, the words "Please Return to a Participating Store for Recycling."
  • At least one plastic carryout bag collection bin shall be placed at each store. The bin should be visible and easily accessible to the consumer and it should be clearly marked, indicating that the collection bin is available for the purpose of collecting and recycling plastic carryout bags.1
  • The store operator shall make reusable bags available to customers within the store, which may be purchased and used in lieu of using a plastic carryout bag or paper bag.
  • The store operator or the store operator’s designated reporting party must submit an annual report by April 1st, for the previous calendar year (see “Model Report” section). The store shall maintain records for a minimum of three (3) years describing the collection, transport, and recycling of plastic carryout bags and shall, upon request, make the records available to the State or the local jurisdiction to demonstrate compliance with this chapter.

For those stores that are not mandated to establish an at-store plastic carryout bag recycling program, participation is encouraged and reporting is optional.

Manufacturers

The manufacturer (producer of a plastic carryout bag sold to a store) shall develop educational materials to encourage the reduction of plastic bag use and increase its reuse and recycling efforts. Manufacturers shall make those materials available to stores required to comply with the statute.

For more details refer to the Public Resources Code Division 30 Part 3 Section 42250.

1For links to recycling resources and free printable signage, see “Additional Resources.”

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