Single-Use Bag Ordinance


 Beyond the Bag  

Purpose of this Ordinance

The purpose is to dramatically reduce the single-use bag waste that is an unnecessary problem for our environment, health and waste management systems.

While 91% of Americans have access to plastic bag recycling only 1-3% of all plastic bags are recycled. The recycling process is fuel, water and energy intensive and creates a product that is more expensive to make than to buy. It costs less than a penny to manufacture a plastic bag the estimated litter clean-up cost per bag is about $.21 to the taxpayers. Additionally, the average American family takes home almost 1,500 plastic bags each year. Each one of these bags has an average life of 12 minutes before disposal.

Paper bags have a higher rate of recycling (20 percent) and are less likely to become a litter problem because they are made of a heavier material, but they're not much better. With chemicals processed at high temperatures, paper bag production releases many toxins into the atmosphere at much the same rate as plastic production. In landfills, paper bags produce over twice as much atmospheric waste as plastic, making them questionable at best as the superior choice for the environment.

Details of the Ordinance

The "Single-Use Bag Reduction Ordinance" was adopted by Truckee Town Council and implemented throughout town on June 1st, 2014.

Click here to read the Ordinance.

General Information
• This ordinance applies to all grocery and retail establishments located in Truckee.
• Does not apply to any establishment that receives 90 percent or more of its revenue from the sale of prepared food.
• Prohibits the distribution of single-use carry out plastic bags.
• Allows the sale of recyclable paper bags.
• Promotes customer use of reusable bags.

Plastic Bags
• The Town of Truckee’s “Single-Use Bag Waste Reduction Ordinance” prohibits all retail establishments in Truckee from providing single-use plastic carryout bags to customers at the point of sale.
• “Single-use plastic carryout bag” is defined as any bag that is less than 2.25 mils thick and is made predominately of plastic derived from petroleum or from bio-based sources, such as corn or other plant sources.
• The ordinance does not prohibit the distribution of plastic “product bags” such as those distributed within a grocery store for bagging produce.
• Businesses can file for a six month extension if they have not used their entire stock of plastic bags before June 1st, 2013. To be reviewed and approved on a case by case basis.

Paper Bags
Fee is for Paper Bags
• Businesses are required to charge customers at least ten cents per paper bag.
• Bags must be made from 40% post-consumer paper and be 100% recyclable and made without old-growth fiber.
• All paper bags purchased at the point of sale must be itemized on the customers receipt.
• Fee is retained by business; fee is non-taxable declared by the BOE.  According to the State Board of Equalization, ordinances specifically requiring that the retailer indicate on the customer’s receipt the number of paper bags provided and the total amount charged for the paper bags is imposed by the local jurisdiction upon the customer, not the retailer. As such, this charge is not included in the retailer’s gross receipts and is not subject to sales or use tax.

Reusable Bags
• Reusable bags are defined as either a bag made of cloth or other machine washable fabric that has handles and is at least 2.25 millimeters thick, specifically designed and manufactured for multiple reuse.
• A retail establishment can provide reusable bags to customers for free as a promotional event only. However, this promotion or series of promotions cannot exceed 90 days in any consecutive 12 month period. Outside of an established promotional event, retailers must charge a minimum of $.10 for each reusable bag provided at checkout.

Bio-based, compostable or biodegradable plastic alternatives and virgin paper bags are not permitted under this ordinance.

Important Business Information

• An annual report form must be filled out and kept at your business ready for inspection if required by Town Staff. Please check in the future to access a printable version of the report form. The required form will be provided by the Town prior to the June 1st implementation date.

Tips on preparing for the change...
• Provide reusable bags for sale to customers.
• Talk to suppliers to ensure your recycled paper bags meet the criteria of the ordinance.
• Program cash registers to display the sale of recycled paper bags on customer receipts.
• Train employees on all ordinance requirements and encourage them to start asking customers if they need a bag before bagging their merchandise.


Consumer Information

Twenty Reasons to Say NO to Single-Use Bags

1. Plastic bags take anywhere from 15 to 1000 years to breakdown.
2. Plastic bags don't biodegrade, but are at risk for photo degradation, light exposure dissolving them into toxic polymer particles. Most often, when this happens, it happens in a water body which leaves these particles to be eaten by our food supply (fish). In a compressed landfill, deprived of atmosphere to help them biodegrade, paper bags don't fare much better.
3. While 91% of Americans have access to plastic recycling, only 1-3 percent of plastic bags are recycled in the United States. The rest end up in landfills, the ocean, lakes and streams or some other place in the environment. There's actually a floating garbage heap made mostly of plastic particles floating in the ocean that's about twice the size of the United States.
4. Plastic bags can clog storm drains and recycling streams and cost millions of dollars for cities to maintain, repair and clean-up.
5. More than 10 percent of washed-up debris polluting the U.S. coastline is made up of plastic bags.
6. It takes 12 million barrels of oil to produce the estimated 100 billion plastic bags Americans use each year.
7. The petroleum used to produce 14 plastic bags can drive a car one mile.
8. The cost to recycle plastic bags so outweighs their value that most recycling facilities will not take them, leading more and more to just be thrown out with the rest of the trash.
9. The United States alone uses approximately 100 billion new plastic bags per year - the average person goes through between 350 and 500.
10. Thanks to their light weight material, plastic bags are the debris most likely to fly away from landfills, settling instead in trees, storm drains, beaches, and the ocean.
11. Public agencies in California alone spend over $300 million on coastal litter clean-up per year.
12. According to the British Antarctic Survey, discarded plastic bags have been found as far north as the Arctic Circle and as far south as The Falkland Islands.
13. An estimated one million birds and 100,000 turtles and other sea animals die of starvation each year after ingesting discarded plastic bags which block their digestive tracks.
14. Made from petroleum products and natural gas, plastic bags utilize nonrenewable resources, ultimately helping to drive up fuel prices.
15. Think paper bags are better? The United States cuts down 14 million trees per year simply to supply the demand for paper shopping bags.
16. It requires 13% more energy to produce one single paper bag than to produce two plastic bags.
17. Made with chemicals processed at high temperatures, paper bag production releases many toxins into the atmosphere at much the same rate as plastic production.
18. Paper bags weigh nearly ten times their counterparts in plastic, requiring more fuel to ship them out to stores.
19. Despite their high recyclability factor, research shows that only 20% of paper bags end up recycled while the rest share a fate with their plastic brethren.
20. In landfills, paper bags produce over twice as much atmospheric waste as plastic, making them questionable at best as the superior choice for the environment.

Last updated: 11/27/2013 1:24:25 PM