San Francisco Environment Department

What checkout bags are compliant?

Checkout Bag Definitions & Labeling Requirements

Checkout Bag

"Checkout Bag" means a carryout bag that is provided by a store to a customer."Checkout Bag" does NOT include:

  1. Bags used to:

    • Package loose bulk items, such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, candy, cookies, or small hardware items;

    • Contain or wrap frozen foods, meat, or fish, whether prepackaged or not;

    • Contain or wrap flowers, potted plants, or other items where damage to a good or contamination of other goods placed together in the same dampness may be a problem; or

    • Contain unwrapped prepared foods or bakery goods;

  2. Bags provided by pharmacists to contain prescription drugs;

  3. Newspaper bags, door-hanger bags, laundry-dry cleaning bags, or bags sold in packages containing multiple bags intended for use as garbage, pet waste or yard waste bags.

Compostable Plastic Bag

"Compostable Plastic Bag" means a plastic Checkout Bag that conforms to at least the minimum standards of California labeling law and meets current ASTM D6400 Standard Specifications for compostability, is labeled as meeting the ASTM Standard by a recognized third-party independent verification entity, such as Biodegradable Product Institute, and is labeled “Compostable” on both sides of the bag either in green color lettering that is at least one inch in height or within a green color band at least one inch in height in order to be readily and easily identifiable.

Recyclable Paper Bag

"Recyclable Paper Bag" means a paper Checkout Bag that meets all of the following requirements:

  1. is 100 % recyclable, using the standards for San Francisco's available curbside recycling collection program;

  2. Contains no old growth fiber;

  3. contains a minimum of 40% post-consumer recycled content, and the Department may modify the requirements for recycled content by regulation adopted after a public hearing and at least 60 days' notice based upon environmental benefit, cost, and market availability;

  4. displays the word “Recyclable” in a highly visible manner on the outside of the bag and is labeled with the name of the manufacturer, the location (country) where manufactured and the percentage of post-consumer recycled content in an easy-to-read size font.

Reusable Bag

"Reusable Bag" means a Checkout Bag with handles that is specifically designed and manufactured for multiple reuse and meets all of the following requirements:

  1. Has a minimum lifetime capability of 125 or more uses carrying 22 or more pounds over a distance of at least 175 ft;

  2. Is capable of being washed so as to be cleaned and disinfected at least 100 times;

  3. If made of plastic, is at least 2.25 mils thick;

  4. Meets the standards of the California Toxics in Packaging Prevention Act (Cal. Health & Safety Code §§ 25214.11-25214.26), as amended, or any successor legislation;

  5. Meets any standards for minimum recycled content established by regulation adopted by the Department after a public hearing and at least 60 days' notice, based upon environmental benefit and market availability

Note:  The Department of the Environment provides list of suppliers for the above acceptable bags on its website.  The reusable bags that are listed are only those that have been independently tested as meeting the above requirements.

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