Bring Your Own Bag (BYOB) Ordinance - Retailer Frequently Asked Questions

1. When does the Single-use Carryout Bag Reduction Ordinance in the City of Napa go into effect?
As of January 1, 2015, all retail establishments selling perishable or nonperishable goods directly to the customer, such as food, clothing or personal items will be prohibited from providing single-use plastic bags to customers.

2. What type of retailers does this ordinance affect?
The ordinance applies to all retail establishments defined as any commercial establishment that sells perishable or nonperishable goods and is located or doing business within the geographical limits of the City of Napa. This includes supermarkets and grocery stores, department stores, clothing stores, wineries and tasting rooms, drug stores and pharmacies, local and national retail stores and mobile retail vendors.

3. How does this ordinance specifically affect me as a retailer?
As of January 1, 2015, you are unable to provide free single-use carryout plastic bags to customers at checkout. You may sell reusable bags or 40% post-consumer recycled content paper bags. Post-consumer recycled content paper bags must be sold for a minimum price of 10¢ each, and the sale must be itemized separately on the sales receipt and is not taxable to the consumer according to the State Board of Equalization.

4. What about the statewide plastic bag law?
In September, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 270, the nation’s first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags. The state’s new plastic bag ban allows local ordinances already on the books (like the one in Napa) to remain in effect. The state law takes effect July 1, 2015, at large groceries and variety stores such as Wal-Mart and Target, and will be extended to convenience stores and drugstores one year later. Napa’s ordinance will go into effect on January 1, 2015.

5. Do I get to keep the revenue from selling the paper bag?
Yes, the 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; it is not a tax and none of it goes to the city. For tax information, review the statement by the California Board of Equalization for more information about the minimum price on bags.

6. Will any purchases be exempt from the ordinance?
Yes. The following uses are exempt from the requirements of the Single-use Carryout Bag Reduction Ordinance:

• Plastic produce bags used for vegetables, fruits and meats or loose bulk items such as nuts, grains, beans and pasta, distributed at grocery stores and farmers markets, and for bags used for purchased live bait
• Bags used to protect breakable glass items
• Newspaper, laundry or dry cleaning bags
• Pharmacy bags used to contain prescription drugs
• Bags used for the transportation of prepared take-out foods and liquids from restaurants and other food providers
Additionally, stores are required to provide customers participating in the California Special Supplemental Food program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and customers participating in the Supplemental Food (SNAP) program with a reusable bag or recycled paper bag at no cost at the point of sale.

7. Are there any plastic or paper bags that can be provided?
Paper and plastic bags, without handles, used for protective purposes within a store can be provided. Protective bags can only be used to separate food or merchandise which could be damaged or contaminate other food or merchandise when combined in a recycled paper bag or reusable bag. This includes bags used for produce, meats, bulk foods, and prescription medication. However, if a retailer uses “protective bags” exclusively, then this may constitute a violation of the ordinance.

8. Isn’t there a law that requires me to put alcoholic beverages into a carryout bag?
Since 2011, there has been no California law that mandates a retailer to provide a bag for purchased alcoholic beverages. There is also no law requiring retailers in unincorporated areas of the County to provide a bag for purchased alcoholic beverages, although nearby incorporated cities may have such a requirement. If a paper bag with handles is provided, the 10-cent fee must be applied.

9. What is the City of Napa’s definition of a single-use plastic bag?
“Single-use, plastic carryout bag” means any bag less than 2.25 mil thick and made predominately of plastic derived from petroleum or bio-based sources, such as corn or other plant source, and includes compostable, non-compostable, and biodegradable plastic bags. These are the typical and familiar plastic bags with handles found at most stores.

10. What types of plastic and paper bags are prohibited by this ordinance?
Typical thin plastic bags, with handles, provided at check out are prohibited. Paper bags with less than 40 percent post-consumer recycled content are prohibited as well.

11. What is a reusable bag?
A reusable bag has handles and is made out of durable materials specifically designed and manufactured for multiple re-use. Reusable plastic bags are at least 2.25 mils thick.

12. Can I provide my customer with a bio-plastic compostable bag?
No, compostable bags are not designed for multiple reuse and are not allowed in this ordinance. However, compostable bags for protective purposes are allowed.

13. Where can I purchase recycled paper bags and reusable bags?
Contact your current bag distributor or find a new reusable bag supplier or a recycled paper bag supplier and inquire about 40% post-consumer recycled content paper bags or reusable bags. The ordinance requires that the 40 percent post-consumer recycled content paper bags have printed on it the percent of post-consumer recycled content, the name and location of the manufacturer, and the words Reusable” and “Recyclable.”

14. How will the City enforce the ordinance?
The Code Enforcement Division of the Community Development Department of the City of Napa is responsible for enforcing the City's Municipal Code. For those who are persistently out of compliance, a warning can be issued and fines may be imposed, ranging from $100 to $500, based on provisions relating to enforcement of violations of code set forth under the Napa Municipal Code.

Additional Information

Check the City’s website at cityofnapa.org/plasticbags for additional retailer resources including tips for customer education. If you have questions, email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 707-257-9520.

Click here to download a PDF of Retailer Frequently Asked Questions.