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Education & Outreach  
Information for Residents

Certain retailers in Long Beach no longer distribute plastic bags. Customers are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags to help reduce litter on our streets and preserve landfill space.Farmer's markets must also comply with this new ordinance.


The purpose of the ordinance adopted by Long Beach City Council is to:

  • Reduce litter in our neighborhoods
  • Reduce plastic debris in our waterways and stormdrains
  • Reduce waste transported to landfills

Here are simple things residents can do:

1. Use a reusable tote when shopping

  • A high-quality reusable tote can replace 600 plastic carryout bags over its lifetime.
  • Be sure to keep your tote clean.  Cleaning tips
  • Consider designating one tote bag for meat products and another for produce. Wash these bags frequently.
  • Keep your totes readily available.  Toting tips
  • For customers participating either in the California Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children or the Supplemental Food Program, stores are required to provide a free reusable bag or paper bag.
  • Download and use our tote-reminder for your next shopping list.

2. Avoid the paper bag alternative

  • Retailers are required to charge a 10¢ fee for every paper bag requested by a customer.
  • Paper cannot be washed or disinfected. Please recycle paper bags after they've been used.
  • Paper bags require costly amounts of energy and nonrenewable resources to produce, and have a relatively short life cycle.

FAQs Print PDF

Why has the City of Long Beach banned plastic carryout bags?

  • They are produced from non-renewable resources
  • They are designed to be disposable, rather than reusable
  • They are not likely to be recycled – less than 5% of the 19 billion plastic bags used annually in California are recycled
  • They are a significant and visible component of litter
  • They pollute our local waterways
  • They are a hazard to wildlife

Why are reusable bags better for the environment?

  1. Reusable bags do not pollute the environment and help reduce landfill waste because they are used again and again.

When does the carryout bag ban begin?

  • August 1, 2011 – Supermarkets and Large Retail Stores with a Pharmacy
  • January 1, 2012 – Farmers Markets, Convenience Stores, Food Marts and other Pharmacies

What kind of plastic bag is banned?

  • A plastic carryout bag made predominantly of plastic that is derived from either petroleum or a biologically-based source, such as corn or other plant sources, which is provided to a customer at the point of sale.

Are there any exceptions to this ban?

  • Yes, small “product bags” or “produce bags” used exclusively to carry produce, meats, or other food items to the point of sale inside a store, to prevent such food items from coming into direct contact with other purchased items or to provide protective covering for an alcoholic beverage container.
  • For any customer participating either in the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) or in the Supplemental Food Program, stores are required to provide at the point of sale, free of charge, either reusable bags or recyclable paper carryout bags or both, at the store’s option.

Why is there a 10-cent charge for recyclable paper carryout bags?

  • The 10-cent charge encourages the use of reusable bags.

What is the 10-cent charge used for?

  • All monies collected by a store under the Long Beach Ordinance will be retained by the store and may be used for:
    • Costs associated with Ordinance compliance
    • Actual costs of providing recyclable paper carryout bags
    • Costs associated with a store’s educational materials or education campaign encouraging the use of reusable carryout bags, if any

Will stores still sell plastic garbage bags?

  • Yes. The Long Beach Ordinance does not affect the sale and purchase of plastic garbage bags.

Can I recycle paper carryout bags?

  • Yes, place them in your purple recycling cart.


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Ordinance Summary

City of Long Beach
Ordinance No. ORD-11-0009
Municipal Code Chapter 8.62: Plastic Carryout Bags

Phase I - Effective August 1, 2011: applies to supermarkets and large retail stores with a pharmacy, with gross annual sales of two million dollars, or a store of at least ten thousand (10,000) square feet of retail space.

Phase II - Effective January 1, 2012: applies to smaller grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, and food marts.

This prohibition does not apply to produce or product bags.

Key components of Long Beach ban include:

  • Stores cannot provide carryout plastic bags to customers.
  • Stores must provide either recyclable paper or reusable bags.
  • Any store that provides a recyclable paper carryout bag to a customer must charge the customer ten cents ($0.10) for each bag provided.
  • All stores must indicate on the customer receipt the number of recyclable paper carryout bags provided and the total amount charged for the bags.

There are no restrictions to prohibit customers from using any type of bag they bring themselves, or carrying away goods that are not placed in a bag.

All stores must provide free recyclable paper bags or reusable bags to any customer participating in the California Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children, or in the Supplemental Food Program.


  • First violation: $100 per day
  • Second violation: $200 per day
  • Third violation: $500 per day

Please view actual ordinance text for definitions, details and clarification of information provided in this summary. ORDINANCE


Questions/Comments? tote@litterfreeLB.org

Ordinance Summary
Ordinance in Detail (Acrobat)
Send us a picture of you and your tote
Information for RETAILERS


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The Litter-free Long Beach Program is designed to expand awareness of the impacts of litter, build community pride, and develop support and participation in keeping
Long Beach litter-free.

Litter-free Long Beach is a program of the:

Environmental Services Bureau

Department of Public Works

City of Long Beach, CA