Single-Use Carry-Out Bag Ordinance

Using Reusable or Recycled Bags
Starting February 3, 2014 customers will need to bring their own reusable bags or purchase a recycled paper bag or reusable bag for 10 cents per bag from retail stores in Los Gatos.

Effective January 1, 2015, the minimum charge for a recycled paper bag or reusable bag will remain at 10 cents per bag from retail stores in Los Gatos.

Single-Use Carry-Out Bag Ordinance Amendment
The Single-Use Carry-Out Bag Ordinance was approved by the Town Council after considering an Environmental Impact Report in which Los Gatos joined 23 other cities to study the effects of single-use plastic bags on the environment. The intent of the ordinance is to reduce the environmental impacts and pollution from plastic bags, reduce waste, and promote a shift towards reusable bags as a Zero Waste measure.

The Ordinance also helps the town 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 10 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.

For more information, contact us at 408-354-6834.


Retailers Toolkit
Bag Specifications (for retailers)
Poster for Retailers
State Board of Equalization (Paper Bag Sales Tax)
Town of Los Gatos Single-Use Carry-Out Bag Ordinance
San Mateo County Single-Use Bag Ban Draft EIR
San Mateo County Reusable Bag Final EIR  
Top 10 Tips for "Healthy" and Long-Lasting Reusable Bags 

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Customers
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Retailers

Key Provisions of the Ordinance

The Single-Use Carry-Out Bag Ordinance applies to retail establishments selling perishable or nonperishable goods directly to the customer, such as food, clothing, or personal items.
  • The ordinance does not apply to restaurants, nonprofit charitable reusers (thrift stores); or stores providing a service (e.g. dry cleaners), unless they also sell goods (e.g. hair salon).
  • Retail stores may not provide single-use plastic carryout bags to customers (plastic carryout bags would be banned). Customers may bring their own reusable bags or purchase bags from stores.
  • Stores may provide customers with a recycled paper bag or reusable bag, but only if the store charges a minimum price of 10 cents per bag. Stores may exempt customers paying for goods with WIC, CalFresh, SNAP or other food stamp cards from bag charges. Stores retain money collected from bag charges. The 10 cent bag charge is exempt from sales tax.
  • Protective bags (without handles) may be provided at no charge for use to segregate and transport items to the cashier (e.g. bags for meat, produce, prescriptions, greeting cards, live fish, or bulk items).
  • Paper bags must contain a minimum of 40% post-consumer recycled content, be 100% recyclable, and show other information.
  • Reusable bags must be made of machine-washable fabric; or durable plastic that is at least 2.25 millimeters thick (not current plastic carryout bags).
  • Stores must itemize paper and reusable bag sales on customer receipts, retain records of the number of bag purchases (supply) and bag sales for three years, and provide records if requested by the town.
  • Gift bags are exempt from the bag charge and are not considered a carry-out bag.

Retailers Toolkit

To help stores prepare, the Town mailed a Retailer’s Toolkit with information and temporary signs to all retail businesses (based on business licenses). In addition, Town representatives are available to answer questions, provide technical assistance, window posters, cashier tent signs, and an information packet with tips for retailers, bag specifications and a list of bag suppliers. The Retailer’s Toolkit is available for download online (see links above).

For more information, contact us at 408-354-6834.