COVID-19 UPDATE | The City is coordinating closely with our public health officials at the Santa Cruz County Health Department to prevent the further spread COVID-19. In an effort to protect you and our community, changes and measures have been adopted in daily operations and activities. For further details please click here for the City’s Response to COVID-19

Getting through this pandemic safely is everyone’s number one priority. Nonetheless, the proliferation of disposable plastics, and their effect on our climate and communities, hasn’t stopped. The City's Single Use Bag Reduction Ordinance remains in place.

We encourage you to request your groceries be placed back in the cart. You can  bag groceries yourself outside the store and away from store employees. Self Load Groceries to car

A City of Santa Cruz ordinance that restricts the distribution of single use carry-out retail bags took effect on April 10, 2013. The ordinance bans the distribution of lightweight plastic carry-out bags and places a bag charge on paper carry-out bags. On April 10, 2014 the 10-cent per bag charge on paper carry-out bags increased to 25 cents.

Exemptions from the ordinance:

  • This City's ordinance does not apply to restaurants, including a café, bakery, delicatessen or catering truck, and also exempts prepared food from grocery and convenience stores’ food counters.
  • Customers participating in the California Special Supplemental Food Program, Food Stamp program, or other government-subsidized purchase programs for low-income residents are exempt from the per bag charge on paper bags.
  • The ban on single-use plastic bags and the charge on single-use paper bags do not apply to plastic or paper bags used to contain loose items prior to check-out or to protect produce, meat, or to protect items as they are put into a carry-out bag at checkout. Examples include: paper bags to protect bottles, plastic bags around ice cream or other wet items, paper bags used to weigh candy, paper pharmacy bags to hold drugs, or paper bags to protect greeting cards.

The City of Santa Cruz joins the County of Santa Cruz, City of Capitola, City of Watsonville and dozens of other California cities and counties that have enacted Single-Use Bag Reduction ordinances. 

Resources for Businesses:

 Information letter for Businesses

Placard for Use at Check-Out Location(s)

BOE Notice-Sales Tax Does Not Apply to Paper Bag Surcharges

The Ordinance: Single-Use Bag Ordinance

For more information contact:

Operations Manager of Resource Recovery
City of Santa Cruz, Public Works Department
809 Center Street, Room 201
Santa Cruz, CA 95060 

Phone:  831-420-5548

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