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Bag Ordinance

Reusable Bag Ordinance

Key Provisions
Retailer Assistance
Documents (Customer Information, Retailer's Toolkit, Bag Specifications)
Frequently Asked Questions

Starting on Earth Day, April 22, 2013, customers will need to bring their own shopping bag or purchase a paper or reusable bag from retail stores in Mountain View. 

The Reusable Bag Ordinance was approved by City Council after considering an Environmental Impact Report in which Mountain View joined 24 other cities to study the effects of single-use plastic bags on the environment. The intent of the ordinance is to prevent harm to marine life, damage to stormwater utility systems, reduce litter and waste, and conserve natural resources.  The Ordinance also helps the City meet requirements to reduce plastic bags found in waterways under the Municipal Stormwater Permit issued by the Regional Water Quality Control Board.

The focus of the Ordinance is to get customers to shop with reusable bags to save natural resources and reduce waste.  In order to promote a shift to reusable bags, the Ordinance requires that stores charge customers a minimum of ten cents on each recycled paper or reusable bag (including plastic bags more than 2.25 mil thick and durable).  Stores keep the revenue from the bag charges to pay for bags and help with record-keeping costs.  Customers paying for goods with WIC or food stamp cards may be provided a recycled paper bag at no charge.  See Key provisions below.


Key Provisions

  • Affects retail establishments selling goods directly to customers, such as grocery stores, hardware stores, video stores, fabric stores, liquor stores, gift shops, and clothing stores. 
  • Exempts restaurants, fast-food businesses, and charitable thrift stores.  Stores providing services such as dry cleaners, beauty shops and car washes are also exempt unless they sell goods.
  • Single-use plastic carryout bags are banned (defined as less than 2.25 mil thick). Old supplies may be used as protective bags if handles are cut off.
  • Stores may provide paper bags or reusable bags (a reusable bag includes durable plastic bags at least 2.25 mil thick) to customers for a minimum of ten cents per bag. 
  • Stores must itemize the ten cent bag charge on the customer’s receipt.
  • Stores may exempt customers paying for goods with WIC coupons or food stamp cards from the ten cent bag charge.
  • Stores retain the revenue from the bag charges to compensate for the cost of carryout bags and record-keeping requirements. 
  • Stores may not provide free carryout bags to customers after April 22, 2013, except as noted above. Stores may provide carryout bags with a promotion that discounts other goods to compensate for the bag charges, e.g. buy 10 items and get a reusable bag.
  • Paper bags must be 100% recyclable, be made of 40% post-consumer content, be marked with the words “Recyclable and Reusable,” and show the manufacturers contact information.
  • Reusable bags must have handles and be made of machine-washable cloth or other durable plastic material (plastic at least 2.25 mil thick).
  • Stores may provide protective paper or plastic bags at no charge to customers to transport goods within the store to the cashier, such as bags for meat, vegetables, greeting cards, bulk items, live fish, and medications dispensed by a pharmacy.  Protective bags do not have handles. Old supplies of plastic carryout bags may be used for protective bags if the handles are cut off.
  • Stores must retain records of bag supply purchase and bag charges for three years and make available to the City upon request.   

Retailer Assistance
To help stores prepare, the City mailed a Retailer’s Toolkit with information and temporary signs to all retail businesses (based on business licenses).  In addition, City representatives visited stores to answer questions, provided technical assistance, window posters, decals, cashier tent signs, parking lot signs, and an information packet with tips for retailers, bag specifications and a list of bag suppliers.   for more information, contact us at
recycle@mountainview.gov or call 650-903-6311.  The Retailer’s Toolkit, ordinance, and more information are available at www.MVrecycle.org.

Retailer's Toolkit*
Bag Specifications (for retailers)  
Poster for Retailers
Customer (Resident) Information:    English     Spanish    Russian    Chinese
Customer Door Hanger
Ordinance Development and EIR

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
FAQ 1 (general FAQ from retailer's toolkit)
FAQ 2 (supplemental FAQ)

*Toolkit includes information about requirements, bag specifications, suppliers, FAQs, tips, posters and cashier tent cards, enforcement and contacts)