San Francisco Department of the Environment

Checkout Bag Charge and Recyclable or Compostable Pre-Checkout Bag Ordinance

San Francisco's Bag Policy has significantly reduced plastic pollution and waste, and remains sound, but in this current public health crisis the City and Bay Area health officers have taken extraordinary steps to slow the spread of the virus and save lives. Given that use of reusable bags and other reusable items brought from home is currently suspended, the City’s Department of the Environment (SF Environment) is temporarily suspending enforcement and not requiring stores to charge consumers for recycled paper bags or other checkout bags provided by stores at this time. However, stores still have the legal right to charge, as they did prior to the ordinance. SF Environment will continue to monitor the situation closely and provide updates as they are available.

In the meantime, we encourage people to visit for guidance on how to protect yourself. We realize this is a challenging time and applaud your efforts in helping our City work toward a future without waste. Please keep your reusable bags, mugs, and other reusable items close by for when we're able to resume bringing them. Stay safe and healthy.

The Checkout Bag Charge and Recyclable or Compostable Pre-Checkout Bag Ordinance aims to:

  • Reduce litter and waste
  • Reduce contamination in recycling (blue bin) and composting (green bin), in turn reducing costs to San Francisco taxpayers
  • Improve water quality in the Bay and ocean by reducing pollution

Starting July 1, 2020:

  • Stores must charge at least 25 cents per checkout bag (previously 10 cents). Checkout bags include those provided for takeout and delivery.
  • Pre-checkout bags must be recyclable or compostable. There is no charge required for pre-checkout bags. Pre-checkout bags are any bag provided to a customer before the point of sale used to:
    • Contain bulk items such as produce, nuts, grains, candy, meat, fish, baked goods, or small hardware
    • Contain unwrapped prepared foods such as bakery goods or popcorn
    • Prevent damage to a good or contamination of other goods placed together in the same bag
    • Contain leftover food from sit down dining ("doggy bags")
  • Conventional, non-compostable plastic pre-checkout bags may not be distributed starting July 1, 2020.

What All Food Establishments and Retail Stores Need to Do to Comply:

1. Offer an acceptable checkout bag to customers. All single-use, conventional plastic checkout and pre-check out bags are prohibited. Acceptable checkout bags include:

2. Charge at least 25¢ per checkout bag and display any charge separately on the customer receipt. Businesses keep the checkout bag charge. The charge does not apply to EBT, WIC, SNAP, and food stamp program transactions.   

3. Offer an acceptable pre-checkout bag. All pre-checkout bags (i.e. “produce bags”) must be either compostable plastic or recyclable paper.

Compostable plastic pre-checkout bags must be:

  • BPI-certified​
  • Compostable
  • Clearly labeled “Compostable” in a highly visible manner on the outside of bag
  • Green color throughout
  • Have a minimum of 15-inch mouth width so as to fit most kitchen compost pails             

Recyclable paper pre-checkout bags must be:

  • 100% recyclable paper with a minimum of 40% post-consumer recycled content
  • Labeled “Recyclable” in highly visible manner on the outside of the bag
  • Labeled with the name of the manufacturer, the country where manufactured, and the percentage of post-consumer recycled content, all in an easy-to-read size and font on the outside of the bag     

Where to Buy Bags

Checkout and pre-checkout bag vendor list and purchasing requirements (PDF)
Reusable checkout bag requirements and verification Tests (PDF)

Business Signage

Sample point of sale placard English/Spanish/Chinese (PDF)
Bring Your Bag Poster English/Spanish/Chinese - 8.5"x11" (PDF)

Related Information

Ordinance file 190417 Board of Supervisors
State Board of Equalization Special Notice: Sales Tax Does Not Apply to City and County Bag Surcharges

SF Zero Waste policies compliance form

Letter in English/Spanish/Chinese (PDF)