Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size
Change Font Size

Single-Use Carryout Bag Ordinance FAQ

Please Note: Although this ordinance became effective on June 27, 2013, in order to allow sufficient time for businesses to use up their existing inventory of bags and to adjust to the requirements of the proposed ordinance, its implementation is proposed to be phased in. Larger stores will be given six months from the effective date of the proposed ordinance - until December 28, 2013 - to comply. Whereas smaller stores will be given twelve months from the effective date of the proposed ordinance - until June 27, 2014.


What is the Single‐Use Carryout Bag Ordinance and when was it considered by City Council?

On December 10, 2012, the City Council of the City of Culver City directed staff to draft an ordinance banning single‐use plastic shopping bags and requiring that covered retailers charge for recyclable paper bags.  City staff held two public meetings to discuss the Single‐Use Carryout Bag Ordinance on April 16, 2013 at the Senior Center and April 20, 2013 at City Hall. The City Council introduced the Ordinance on May 13, 2013 and adopted it on May 28, 2013.  Please click here to view the adopted ordinance.

The adopted Ordinance is similar to ordinances in place in jurisdictions such as: Los Angeles County (unincorporated), West Hollywood, Santa Monica, Pasadena, and Long Beach.

When does this Ordinance go into effect?

This ordinance becomes effective on June 27, 2013. 

The following types of stores have six months from the effective date, December 28, 2013, to comply with the provisions of the ordinance:


  1. A full-line, self-service retail store with gross annual sales of two million dollars ($2,000,000), or more, that sells a line of dry grocery, canned goods, or nonfood items and some perishable items.

Large Retail Stores with a Pharmacy

  1. A store of at least 10,000 square feet of retail space that generates sales or use tax pursuant to the Bradley-Burns Uniform Local Sales and Use Tax Law (Part 1.5 (commencing with Section 7200) of Division 2 of the Revenue and Taxation Code) and that has a pharmacy licensed pursuant to Chapter 9 (commencing with Section 4000) of Division 2 of the Business and Professions Code.

The following categories of stores have one year from the effective date, June 27, 2014, to comply with the ordinance:

Grocery stores, Convenience stores, Food Marts, and Drug Stores

  1. A drug store, pharmacy, supermarket, grocery store, convenience food store, foodmart, or other entity engaged in the retail sale of a limited line of goods that includes milk, bread, soda, and snack foods, including those stores with a Type 20 or 21 license issued by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.


How will this Ordinance affect residents?

Most retail stores will no longer provide single‐use plastic bags to shoppers. Paper bags will be provided at a cost of a minimum of 10 cents per bag. Customers are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags, or may choose to pay for paper bags or buy reusable bags that will be available for sale at the point of purchase in many stores.

Are there any exemptions to this policy?

Produce and product bags are excluded.  These bags are used for transporting items such as produce and raw meat to the point of sale and are not included for health and safety reasons.  Those customers who qualify for subsidized groceries through programs such as the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program are also exempt from the charges.

What is the intent of the Ordinance?

The intent of the Ordinance is to significantly reduce the environmental impacts related to bags by encouraging customers to use reusable bags instead of single-use plastic and paper carry out bags. Through this initiative, residents will have the opportunity to personally contribute toward reducing waste in the City.

Environmental Information

Are single‐use plastics bags really that harmful?

Yes. Single-use plastic bags are used in extremely high numbers and only a small fraction of them are ever recycled.  Some single-use plastic bags are reused, but many of them are simply used once and then discarded.  Once discarded, single-use plastic bags often remain in the environment for decades or longer.  These bags can end up in landfills or be swept away by the wind and get caught in trees, fences, and storm drains.  Eventually, plastic bags can find their way to the ocean where they can do significant damage to wildlife.  For example, animals may become tangled in the bags, or the bags can be mistaken for food and accidentally ingested by marine life. 


What about paper bags?

Single-use paper bags are more easily recycled and more compostable than single-use plastic bags.  Also, they do not create the same problems associated with litter and marine life.  However, single-use paper bags are still damaging to the environment.  It has been estimated that 14 million trees are cut down every year to make paper bags for shoppers in the US.  Furthermore, it takes a significant amount of energy to produce, distribute, and dispose of paper bags.  To help improve the environmental impact of the paper bags you use and keep them out of our landfills, be sure to recycle them.  For more information on the City's recycling program, please click here.

Why are reusable bags better for the environment?

There are also environmental impacts associated with the production and distribution of reusable bags.  However, reusable bags can be used many times and thus create less landfill waste and fewer environmental impacts than other types of bags.  In order to do your part to improve the environmental benefits of these bags, try to buy locally-sourced bags and reuse them as many times as you can.  As always, be sure to keep in mind the 3 R’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Where can I find information on the environmental impacts of this Ordinance?

Culver City’s Ordinance is based on Los Angeles County’s Ordinance. To download Los Angeles County’s Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) and other supporting documents, please click here. To download Culver City’s Addendum to Los Angeles County’s FEIR, please click here.

For Businesses

How does this policy affect businesses?

The proposed policy prohibits covered retailers (described previously) from distributing single‐use plastic shopping bags to customers. Stores may provide paper bags to customers for a minimum 10 cent charge (with the exception of customers who qualify for subsidized groceries). This 10 cent minimum charge is a pass‐through cost to be retained by the store. Stores are required to post a signage informing customers of the charge and make reusable bags available for customers to purchase (or for free) as an alternative.  To see an example of potential signage, click here.

Are there any reporting requirements?

There are no formal reporting requirements, but affected businesses are required to keep records and make them available upon the City’s request.   This will enable the City to track the overall impact of the ban.

What are the penalties?

Stores will be given a written warning notice.  The following penalties will apply for future violations:  The penalties are as follows and shall be imposed for each day a violation occurs or is allowed to continue:

  • A fine not exceeding one hundred dollars ($100.00) for the first violation after the written warning notice is given;
  • A fine not exceeding two hundred dollars ($200.00) for the second violation after the written warning notice is given; or
  • A fine not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500.00) for the third and any subsequent violations after the written warning notice is given.

What is the City of Culver City’s definition of a recyclable paper carryout bag?

 “Recyclable paper carryout bag” means a paper bag that meets all of the following requirements:

  • (1) contains no old growth fiber;
  • (2) is one hundred percent (100%) recyclable overall and contains a minimum of forty percent (40%) post-consumer recycled material;
  • (3) is capable of composting, consistent with the timeline and specifications of the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) Standard D6400;
  • (4) is accepted for recycling in curbside programs in the City;
  • (5) has printed on the bag the name of the manufacturer, the location (country) where the bag was manufactured, and the percentage of postconsumer recycled material used;
  • (6) displays the word “Recyclable” in a highly visible manner on the outside of the bag.


What is the City of Culver City’s definition of a reusable bag?

“Reusable bag” means a bag with handles that is specifically designed and manufactured for multiple reuse and meets all of the following requirements:

  • (1) has a minimum lifetime of 125 uses (capability of carrying a minimum of 22 pounds 125 times over a distance of at least 175 feet);
  • (2) has a minimum volume of 15 liters;
  • (3) is machine washable or is made from a material that can be cleaned or disinfected;
  • (4) does not contain lead, cadmium, or any other heavy metal in toxic amounts;
  • (5) has printed on the bag, or on a tag that is permanently affixed to the bag, the name of the manufacturer, the location (country) where the bag was manufactured, a statement that the bag does not contain lead, cadmium, or any other heavy metal in toxic amounts, and the percentage of postconsumer recycled material used, if any; and
  • (6) if made of plastic, is a minimum of at least 2.25 mils thick.

Bag Ordinance Signage

No More Plastic Bag Reminder Full Size (pdf)
No More Plastic Bag Reminder Small (pdf) 
Culver City’s Ordinance Information (pdf)

For Residents

What if I can’t afford to purchase a reusable bag?

  • Pick up a free bag during one of the City’s periodic giveaways.
  • Customers participating in the California Special Supplemental Food program for Women, Infants, and Children and a customer participating in the Supplemental Food program are eligible to receive a free reusable bag or recycled paper bag at the point of sale from a grocery stores, convenience stores, minimarts, liquor store, drug stores and pharmacies.

What are some tips to help me remember to bring my reusable bags?

  • Remind yourself to bring your bags by writing “Bring your bags” on your shopping list.
  • Keep your reusable bags in a visible place such as the front seat of your car or at the front door.  It’s easy to forget your bags when they are hiding in your trunk or closet.
  • After you empty and wash your bags, place them near your keys, purse or in another location that you’ll be sure to remember them.
  • If you forget to bring your reusable bags into the store, go back and get them.  Or, if you’d rather, keep your items in the cart after checkout and then transfer them to your reusable bags when you get to your car.
  • Carry a pouch bag in your purse or backpack for unexpected trips and added convenience.


How do I care for my reusable bag?

The most convenient reusable bags are those that are machine washable so they can be cleaned easily. You should wash these bags as often as necessary, just as you would wash towels or other similar items. If you choose to purchase bags that aren’t machine washable, check the manufacturer’s instructions for disinfecting and cleaning them to make sure you keep them clean and free from germs.  In order to keep different types of products (such as produce, animal products and dry goods) separate, many people choose to designate different bags for different types of products.  Also, you can use product or produce bags to separate unpackaged goods such as produce or items that might leak from the other items in your bag.

How can I find other bags to dispose of my pet waste?

A variety of stores carry bags designed for pet waste disposal (many of these bags are even biodegradable!).  However, if you want to avoid purchasing bags, you can reuse other types of bags.  Newspaper, produce, and bread bags all make excellent alternatives for pet waste.

Sources of Additional Information

Where can I get additional updates/information?

For more information, please call the Public Works Department at (310) 253-6411 or email by clicking here.