L.A. County's Bag Ban Now In Effect

Attention shoppers! Effective Friday, July 1, 2011, large supermarkets and pharmacies in Los Angeles County’s unincorporated areas are not allowed to distribute single use plastic

More Information



  • Call 310.451.1500, x116

Approved by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on November 16, 2010, the ban prohibits the distribution of single-use plastic shopping bags
at grocery stores, convenience stores and pharmacies in unincorporated
areas, which encompass some 1 million residents and 65% of the county.

The ban is intended to promote the use of reusable bags over single use plastic and paper carryout bags in order to reduce the negative economic and environmental impacts associated with single use bags.

The county is now the largest municipality in the nation to ban plastic
bags and has spurred a substantial amount of interest in this issue with many jurisdictions are contemplating similar actions. Some cities within Los Angeles County who have already passed similar ordinances are: Malibu, Long Beach, Santa Monica, and Calabasas.

Heal the Bay has led the legislative fight to enact a bag ban for
more than five years as part of its ongoing efforts to tackle plastic
pollution in California seas and neighborhoods.

Learn more! (on this page)

FAQ’s about the L.A. County Bag Ban

Why ban bags now?

  • Californians use more than 19 billion plastic grocery and merchandise bags each year, roughly 552 bags per person. This usage generates 147,038 tons of unnecessary waste — enough to stretch around the globe over 250 times.
  • Californians throw away over 600 plastic bags per second.
  • California taxpayers spend millions to collect and landfill plastic bag waste each year. That figure does not include external costs, e.g. resource extraction and depletion, quality of life issues, economic loss due to plastic bag litter.
  • U.S. consumers use 100 billion plastic bags annually, which are all made from fossil fuels.

Where does the ban apply?

The ban would include neighborhoods in Los Angeles County unincorporated areas. The areas that are not part of the 88 cities considered to be unincorporated L.A. County. More than 65% of Los Angeles County is unincorporated. For the 1 million people living in these areas, the Board of Supervisors and County Departments provide the municipal services.

Are all plastic carry out bags banned?

Yes. Plastic carryout bags are any bag made predominantly of plastic (either petroleum or a biologically-based source, such as corn or other plants) provided to a customer at the cash register.

Will I get a paper bag instead?

During manufacturing, both paper and plastic bags emit global warming gases, create water pollution and use raw materials and energy. Paper is not the answer. If you didn’t bring a reusable bag and you must have a bag, you will have to buy a paper bag for 10 cents.

  • The paper bags must be 100% recyclable and contain a minimum of 40% postconsumer recycled material and display the word “Recyclable” in a highly visible manner on the outside of the bag.

What do I put my green beans and meat in?

The ban does not include produce bags or product bags. That means any bag without handles used exclusively to carry produce, meats, bread or other food items to the cash register, will not be included in the ban.

What happens to the 10 cents collected by the store?

Monies collected by a store for paper bags will be retained by the store and may be used only for:

  • Costs associated with complying with the requirements of the ban
  • Actual costs of providing recyclable paper carryout bags
  • Costs associated with a store’s educational materials or education campaign encouraging the use of reusable bags

What if I can’t afford reusable bags?

All stores must provide bags free of charge to any customer participating either in the California Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children or in the Supplemental Food Program

What stores are covered by the ban?

Hopefully you will make the choice to use reusable bags everywhere, but plastic carry out bags will no longer be available at any of the following retail establishments located within the unincorporated area of the County:

  • Supermarkets
  • Large retail pharmacies
  • Liquor stores and food marts

Why Replace Plastic Grocery Bags With Reusable Bags?

  • Each year, approximately 6 billion plastic bags are consumed in Los Angeles County. This is equivalent to 600 bags per person per year.
  • Approximately 150,000 tons of plastic bags are disposed by Los Angeles County residents each year.
  • Disposable bags cost our cities up to 17 cents per bag for disposal.
    Plastic bags are made from fossil fuels. Americans use over 380 billion bags every year, wasting this precious resource.
  • Alternatives such as reusable bags are readily available and affordable.
  • Some areas of the Pacific Ocean contain six times more plastic debris than zooplankton (the fundamental base of our food chain.) These tiny pieces of plastic are eaten by zooplankton and move up the food chain, potentially presenting health risks for humans.

Benefits of Implementing Widespread Use of Reusable Bags

  • Significant cost savings to taxpayers – less money spent on litter cleanup, enforcement, prevention
  • Fewer plastic bags littering our community
  • Fewer impacts to the marine environment (marine wildlife, such as sea turtles and whales ingest littered plastic bags, that they mistake for food)
  • Fewer natural resources consumed