City Prepares for Implementation of Single-Use Bag Ordinance

plastic-bag-putahby Michelle Millet

On November 12 of last year city council passed an ordinance that regulates the distribution of single-use bags by local businesses.  The purpose of the ordinance is to reduce the distribution of carryout bags and promote the use of reusable bags.

The city has been conducting workshops for business owners to explain how the ordinance will affect them and to answer their questions regarding how the ordinance will be implemented and enforced.

When the ordinance goes into effect on July 1, businesses will no longer be allowed to distribute single-use carry out bags to customers at the point of sale.  They may make paper bags, or other types of reusable bags, available for a 10 cent fee.  This cost pass-through reimburses retailers for the costs of providing recycled paper carryout bags to their customers. All of the revenue from the cost pass-through remains with the store. The fee is also meant to encourage the use of reusable bags and discourage unnecessary distribution of bags.

Applicable businesses include all stores and restaurants located within the limits of the City of Davis that sell perishable or non-perishable goods. These include, but are not limited to, all grocery stores, convenience stores, minimarts, liquor stores, drug stores, restaurants and take-out food (i.e. fast food) establishments.

Non-profit thrift stores, including Goodwill, the SPCA Thrift Store, and All Things Right and Relevant, are not regulated by the ordinance and may distribute any bags they wish, without charging any fees.

The city’s website lays out the following options customers have when purchasing goods or food:

  • bring your own bag (reusable cloth bag, paper bag, or plastic bag)
  • purchase a paper bag for 10 cents
  • purchase a reusable bag
  • carry your items out of the store without a bag

The ordinance also places restrictions on the types of reusable bags stores are allowed to distribute.

Paper bags must contain a minimum of 40% post-consumer material. Smaller bags, such as those used for things like greeting cards, most contain at least 20% post-consumer material.  Bags must be made of compostable materials and be a type that is accepted for curbside recycling in Davis.

Plastic bags that meet certain qualifications can also be distributed for a fee.  To qualify they need to either be machine washable or easily cleaned, they may not contain lead, cadmium or any other heavy metal in toxic amounts. Plastic bags must be at least 2.25 mils (thousandths of an inch) thick, and have a minimum lifetime of 125 uses, which means they are capable of carrying a minimum of 22 pounds 125 times over a distance of at least 175 feet.

Merchants do not need to charge a fee for bags used to package loose bulk items or bags that are used to contain or wrap frozen foods, meat, or fish. Other exemptions include bags used to prevent damage like bags for greeting cards, dry cleaning, or newspaper.  Pharmacy bags are not regulated nor are  bags for restaurants leftovers. (Note, bags used to carry take-out food are not exempt).

The city’s website gives tips on how to remember to bring reusable bags when shopping:

  • Write “BRING YOUR BAG” at the top of your shopping list.
  • Purchase or make bags that you really enjoy using and those that instill pride.
  • Have different bags, baskets and carts for different types of shopping … a knapsack by your bike or a compact pouch-type bag in your handbag or purse.
  • After you unpack and wash your bags, remember to place them next to your house keys.
  • Bags you can see are not easily forgotten.
  • Forgot your bags in the car?  It’s OK.  Before you go to the check-out, go back to your car and get them.  It will help to remember next time.
  • Share a Bag! If you see that someone has forgotten a bag you can offer them one of yours.

It also gives the following instructions on how to care for reusable bags:

  • Wash polypropylene, cloth or canvas bags after each use, or bleach bags weekly (follow tag instructions – most cloth bags can be washed in the washing machine and plastic bags should be wiped down).
  • Label the bags (meat, produce, boxed items, etc.).
  • Only use the bags to carry groceries.
  • Double wrap meats in plastic bags before putting them in a reusable bag.
  • Keep meat and produce separate.
  • Don’t store perishables in the trunk of your car.
  • Group similar foods together and use the same bags for the same food groups to eliminate cross contamination.
  • Allow the bags to dry completely after washing before storing.

Again, this ordinance will go into effect on July 1, 2014

About The Author

Michelle Millet is a 25-year resident of Davis. She currently serves as the Chair of the Natural Resource Commission.

Related posts

25 Comments

  1. growth issue

    Really? LMAO…..I can’t wait to get a “pride” bag

    “•Write “BRING YOUR BAG” at the top of your shopping list.
    •Purchase or make bags that you really enjoy using and those that instill pride.
    •Have different bags, baskets and carts for different types of shopping….a knapsack by your bike or a compact pouch-type bag in your handbag or purse.
    •After you unpack and wash your bags, remember to place them next to your house keys.
    •Bags you can see are not easily forgotten.
    •Forgot your bags in the car? It’s OK. Before you go to the check-out, go back to your car and get them. It will help to remember next time.
    •Share a Bag! If you see that someone has forgotten a bag you can offer them one of yours.”

  2. growth issue

    Other tips from G.I. on how to remember your bags:

    * Tie a reusable bag strap around your finger
    * Every night hang your empty bags over your front door knob
    * Write REUSABLE BAGS across your forehead in red felt pen
    * Make up a clever catchy reusable bag jingle and sing it yourself
    * Make a little reusable bag key chain
    * Get the city to scrap the ordinance so you won’t have to deal with the stupid reusable bags

  3. growth issue

    “Non-profit thrift stores, including Goodwill, the SPCA Thrift Store, and All Things Right and Relevant, are not regulated by the ordinance and may distribute any bags they wish, without charging any fees.”

    That’s because everyone knows that Goodwill plastic bags aren’t aerodynamic and can’t fly all the way to the ocean.

  4. D.D.

    It will be a minor inconvenience to stop using one-time use plastic bags. Just like the bike lane is a minor inconvenience, and separating our trash is a minor inconvenience. I visited Holland in 1998 . Everyone in the small town where I visited brought their own cloth bags and cardboard boxes to the grocery store. Many of the townspeople road their bikes to the grocery store every other day, even in bad weather. I bet they would laugh at us for complaining about this minor inconvenience.

    1. Biddlin

      I started using reusable cloth bags some years ago, when I was working in the waste containment industry. I occasionally use paper sacks, as they can be re-used for a multitude of purposes until they start to degrade. I don’t know if any plastic bags from Davis make it to the ocean, but one blowing on to someones windshield, on I-80 at Mace, nearly caused an accident quite recently. I know because I was right behind the driver who was momentarily blinded. Their nuisance factor is enough to warrant their discontinuance. I’d be more vexed by the greenwaste can scam.

  5. Frankly

    Just wait for our idiot state government to make it statewide.

    Apparently Democrats want to eliminate human convenience almost as much as they strive to eliminate business and. Jobs.

      1. Frankly

        You mean our jobless and massively debt saddled next generation? I think plastic bags are an obsession of a small part of our generation, not theirs.

        1. Davis Progressive

          how about the generation that faces loss of farm productivity and rising ocean tides encroaching into cities and freshwater supplies? is plastic bags a huge component of that, but to me at least, it represents the need to change our entire mindset.

          1. growth issue

            So if it’s cold it’s because global warming, if it’s hot it’s because of global warming, if the ice caps are melting or if they’re expanding it’s because of global warming, now it doesn’t matter if the oceans are rising or lowering it’s because of global warming. Just because you believe everything the climate alarmists feed YOU it doesn’t make it right either.

          2. Frankly

            GI – That was the political brilliance of changing the name to “Global Climate Change”.

            If you go back in time to when the church colluded with politicians, the politicians leveraging the power and fear of the inexplicable divine.

            The Godless left has done well to clone a like response (although it took them centuries). It is the collusion of politicians and science. And like was the challenge before with questioning religion, you cannot question science.

            The scientific theories of man-made climate change are like part of the biblical scripture to those on the left. Your are held as a blasphemer if you deny the “faith!”

            They say “it is peer reviewed”.

            By scientists.

            But religious scripture is peer-reviewed by religious scholars. Why don’t we accept it with the same faith?

            Answer… because it does nothing to advance the left’s political pursuit.

          3. Don Shor

            They say “it is peer reviewed”.
            By scientists.

            Who would you prefer that scientific articles be peer-reviewed by? Climate change science is not faith, Frankly. It’s not equivalent to religion.
            Lots of people ‘question science’ in the sense of researching, writing, and publishing articles about climate change. Many facts are not in dispute; many predictions and analyses are vigorously disputed. There are thousands of climate scientists. You are imputing a uniformity of opinion that is not as simplistic as you like to portray it. That’s because the rhetorical device of making scientists seem dogmatic and irrational suits your ideology. I have previously referred you to blogs where climate scientists debate and argue quite freely about the topic.

  6. growth issue

    Here’s a little jingle to help the environmental zealots remember to bring their reusable bags:

    Everybody sing….

    My methods had to be drastic,
    Because I hate bags made of plastic,
    So now I feel really fantastic,
    Because I ridded Davis of plastic.

    Reusable bag,
    Reusable bag,
    Reusable baaaaa…ag,
    Fanatics like to brag.

    We know what’s best for you,
    Just do what you’re told to do,
    So don’t just sit around and stew,
    We want your plastic bottles too.

    Reusable bag,
    Reusable bag,
    Reusable baaaaa…ag,
    Fanatics like to brag.

        1. growth issue

          SOD, the SF news is why I added the plastic bottle reference. You’re right, our local fanatics can’t let SF out do them. I’m sure that’s next along with your paper and styrofoam coffee cups from a local coffee shop near you.

          1. Frankly

            You see were are heading… because those environmental-extremist-want-to-control-everyone else-liberal progressives can never stop. Once the get a win, they soon get restless looking for that next cause that validates their existence… because they don’t have enough other enterprising things to do like working to help the economy and to create more jobs. So, eventually we will only be able to purchase what we can carry out of the store in our two hands… except for those with disabilities, or that are part of some designated victims class, or public-sector union members… all of these will be exempt for reasons of socials justice. So, that means the new restrictions will only apply to white males.

            But then some white males will have bigger hands than other white males, so eventually those with smaller hands will also get the exemption.

            And of course this all sounds absurd.

            But then so did the idea that we would ban plastic bags.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for