Bring Your Own Bag

Alameda County Reusable Bag Ordinance

The Alameda County Waste Management Authority has adopted a Reusable Bag Ordinance to promote the use of reusable bags in place of single-use plastic and paper carryout bags.

  • Beginning on January 1, 2013, stores in Alameda County that sell packaged foods and/or alcohol– including most grocery stores, minimarts, convenience stores, liquor stores, and pharmacies – will no longer provide customers with single-use plastic bags at checkout.
  • Bags made of recycled paper or reusable bags may be made available for a minimum price of 10 cents per bag.
  • Protective bags for meat and produce will still be allowed.
  • Consumers may bring any type of bags from home they wish – and are strongly encouraged to do so!

Benefits and Impacts

  • The Reusable Bag Ordinance will save valuable natural resources, reduce litter, and save our cities money by reducing litter cleanup costs.
    • One reusable bag can replace 600 single-use bags over its lifetime.
    • Plastic bags are one of the most common litter items found in our creeks, storm drains and streets.
    • Storm drain cleanup costs Alameda County cities approximately $24 million every year.  Plastic bags are one of the most prevalent items found in storm drains.
  • In adopting this ordinance, Alameda County joins several of California’s largest cities, including San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles, that no longer allow the distribution of single-use bags.

Plastic Bag and Litter Facts

  • An estimated 764 million single-use plastic bags are distributed in Alameda County annually, in addition to more than 100 million paper bags.
  • Roughly 10,000 tons of plastic bags find their way to Alameda County’s landfills every year.
  • On 2011 California Coastal Cleanup Day, more than 1.3 million bags (both plastic and paper) were collected from our creeks and coasts, comprising 8.26 percent of litter collected.
  • In 2008 – the most recent year for which local data is available – plastic bags comprised nearly 1 out of 10 (9.6%) of the litter items collected.

More information can be found at


Why Bring Your Own Bag?

Start a habit you'll be proud to flaunt: remember your own bags every time you go to the store. It's one simple way to go green in your daily life. And when people see you're making the right choice, they're likely to do it too.

Since 2008, over 5,000 shoppers have signed Castro Valley Sanitary District’s “Bring Your Own Bag” (BYOB) guest book and pledged to help the environment by bringing their own tote and/or produce bag every time they go to the grocery store. Although we currently do not have any reusable tote bags to give away, we continue to distribute reusable produce bags. As a result, we estimate that disposable bag use has been reduced by over 24,000 bags per week! Keep up the good work, and keep using those reusable bags!


Some paper & plastic statistics:

  • Each year the United States consumes 30 billion plastic and 10 billion paper grocery bags, requiring 14 million trees1 and 12 million barrels of oil.2
  • The pulp and paper industry is the 2nd largest industrial user of energy in the U.S.3
  • More than 46,000 pieces of plastic contaminate each square mile of our oceans.4
  • Over 100,000 marine animals die every year from plastic entanglement.5
  • Only 1% of plastic bags are recycled annually.6

1- "Paper or Plastic?, Delicious Living Magazine, March 2002.
2- Reusable Bags Tackle Plastic Bag Mess, Organic Trade Association.
3- "Paper Cuts: Recovering the Paper Landscape", Abromovitz & Mattoon, Worldwatch Institute, Washington DC, 1999.
4- Keep the Sea Plastic Free, Bin It, Australian Government, Department of the Environment and Heritage
5- Turtles Don't Shop, Earth Resource Foundation.
6- Plastic Bags: A Necessary Eyesore?, Worldwatch Institute.


Tips to remember your bags

Put your coupons in your bag and keep it by the door.

Keep reusable bags in the trunk of your car and put a small note on the dashboard to remind you to bring them.

Purchase a few compact reusable bags that you can keep with you in a purse, jacket pocket, or backpack, or attach to your keychain.

Give a fun bag to someone as a gift and tell them why they should use it.

Decorate your own bag. Ask the kids to remind you to bring your bags as part of earning their allowance.

Recently BayROC asked hundreds of people how they would remember to bring their reusable bag to the store. Here are some of their favorite ideas, broken down by category of shopper.



Teach my kids to remind me


Dog owners

Attach to dog leash



Attach to my bike



Put it back into the car after I empty it

Keep bags in the car and at the office

Leave it in the driver’s side pocket of the car


Tips for at home

Clip the bag to your shopping list

Hang it on the front door knob

Include bag in shopping list as Item # 1


Tips for the office

Keep it on my desk

Leave it in the bag that I bring to work


Shoppers on the move

Keep it in my backpack