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Sunnyvale Bag Ban

Friends of the Library BagYou may have heard by now about the single use plastic bag ordinance that the City of Sunnyvale adopted in December, 2011. Beginning June 20, 2012 — in only a month — large retailers will not be allowed to give out free single use plastic bags at check-out. Instead, they must provide an alternative paper bag that is made from at least 40% post-consumer recycled content paper, as well as charge $.10 per bag that consumers take from the store. The fee will increase to $.25 per bag in 2014. Stores such as supermarkets are still allowed to provide plastic bags with no handles for produce. And beginning March 20, 2013, the same rules will apply to small stores, too.

Sunnyvale is one of a growing list of at least 25 California cities or counties that have either already adopted the ban or will be by the end of 2012. If you’ve already visited shopping centers such as Westfield Valley Fair in Santa Clara, you’ve probably already experienced what will begin happening in Sunnyvale.

How can you avoid paying $.10 per paper bag that you bring home from a store? Invest in some reusable bags! Many supermarkets and retailers already have reusable bags available for a small fee. In fact, our own Friends of the Sunnyvale Library has made brand new reusable bags available at the Customer Service Desk at the front of the Library for $2 each. Proceeds benefit the Friends of the Sunnyvale Library and, in turn, the Library itself.

And how can you remember to bring your own bags to the supermarket, other retailers, or even the Library? Here are some tips:

  • Leave 3 or 4 bags in your car at all times — if possible, in a visible location, such as on the floor of the front passenger seat. Then, when you unload your purchases at home, leave the bags by the front door so that you remember to return them to your car the next time you leave the house.
  • Carry a small reusable bag in your pocket or handbag for unplanned trips to the store.
  • Hang several bags on a hook near the front door or in the garage so you will see and grab them anytime you leave the house.

Do you have other ideas for how to remember your own bags every time you go shopping?

For more information about the ordinance and what it means for you and for Sunnyvale retailers, please visit the City’s website regarding the single use plastic bag ordinance. The site has a useful FAQ that discusses any concerns you may have about the new rules.

[Edited 5/24/2012: To clarify regarding the Westfield Valley Fair statement above, the ban currently only applies to the part of Westfield Valley Fair located in San Jose and not in Santa Clara. For example, Men's Macy's and Old Navy are in San Jose, while Women's Macy's is in Santa Clara. Men's Macy's and Old Navy are not giving out plastic bags and are charging $.10 per paper bag. Women's Macy's is still giving out plastic bags.]

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