Foster City Ordinance Encouraging Reusable Bags Begins Earth Day 2013
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For Immediate Release: April 02, 2013
Contact: 'Andra Lorenz, Management Analyst, (650) 286-3215,

On Earth Day, April 22, 2013, Foster City’s Reusable Bag Ordinance will launch, requiring that retailers no longer provide customers with single use plastic carry-out bags and charge for paper bags that have minimum recycled content. Foster City joins San Mateo County and other cities and counties to encourage the use of reusable bags, promoting healthier environments for citizens through the decreased use of single-use bags.

Researchers have well-documented the harmful impact to our environment and wildlife caused by single-use plastic bags. Plastic does not biodegrade; instead it breaks down into smaller particles that seep into the soil and water. This “bag ban” is the result of sobering news that in California, 20 billion single-use plastic grocery bags are used every year, which end up in landfills, or as litter on land and in water.

“We are well aware that there are many on either side of this issue who feel passionately about banning single-use plastic bags in San Mateo County,” said Dean Peterson, County Health System Director of Environmental Health. “While there will likely be growing pains associated with the extermination of this harmful product from our County, I think everyone can agree that the long-term benefit of a cleaner, safer, and frankly existent environment where future families and children can enjoy the natural beauty of San Mateo County, is a more than reasonable tradeoff.”

The ban will apply to all County retail outlets, including grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies and other shops. It does not apply to plastic bags used for restaurant food take-out or for produce, meats, bulk foods and prescription medicines. Shop owners are encouraged return any unused plastic bags to their vendors for repurposing and/or refund.

If retail customers do not bring a reusable bag, the retailer will charge 10-cents per paper bag until Jan. 1, 2015, after which a 25-cent per bag charge may apply. Shoppers using reusable bags are encouraged to practice “healthy bag habits” that include washing reusable bags regularly to remove bacteria and other potential food contaminants. Other recommendations for bag safety can be found on the San Mateo County Health System website at

City Hall - 610 Foster City Blvd.
Foster City, CA 94404
(650) 286-3200