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In response to the COVID-19 health emergency, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Executive Order N-54-20 on April 23, 2020.

The order states (among other things):

12) Public Resources Code section 42283 is suspended for a period of 60 days to the extent that it prohibits retail establishments from (a) providing without charge reusable grocery bags or recycled paper bags to customers at point of sale, or (b) where it is not possible to provide reusable grocery bags or recycled paper bags, providing single-use carryout bags to customers at point of sale.

This Order is not intended to, and does not, apply to retail establishments in local jurisdictions with ordinances governing the use of single-use carryout bags in effect before January 1, 2015. Public Resources Code section 42287 continues to allow those jurisdictions to apply ordinances in effect before January 1, 2015 restricting the use of single-use carryout bags as well as any emergency rules established by those jurisdictions and their respective health departments.

In addition, Cal/OSHA issued guidance for the grocery industry that includes the safe handling of reusable bags.

Proposition 67: November General Election

On November 8, 2016, California voters approved Proposition 67, the statewide Single-Use Carryout Bag Ban.

As a result, SB 270 is in effect and most grocery stores, retail stores with a pharmacy, convenience stores, food marts, and liquor stores will no longer be able to provide single-use plastic carryout bags to their customers. Instead, these stores may provide a reusable grocery bag or recycled paper bag to a customer at the point of sale at a charge of at least 10 cents. Many cities and counties have bag ordinances in place. Some of these jurisdictions’ ordinances will not be subject to this new law, depending on whether they meet certain preemption requirements. Consult your local governmental entity for more information.

SB 270 required CalRecycle to provide a status report on the implementation of the bill which is available in this report: Implementation Update and Policy Considerations for Management of Reusable Grocery Bags in California

Reusable Grocery Bag Certification Requirements

Public Resources Code Sections 42281, 42281.5 and 42282 outline the certification requirements for reusable grocery bags. Bag manufacturers and distributors who sell these types of reusable grocery bags in specified California stores must submit their proof of certification to CalRecycle via the Reusable Grocery Bag Reporting System (RGBRS).

Once proof of certification has been received via the RGBRS, the names of the bag producers and their certified bags will be posted to the list of Certified Reusable Grocery Bags and Producers. These reusable grocery bags must be certified every other year.

Certification Fee

A certification fee schedule for reusable grocery bag producers, as required by the law, has been established via the rulemaking process. To learn more, please visit CalRecycle’s SB 270 Rulemaking webpage.

SB 270 FAQs: For more information regarding bag charges, certification and enforcement.