Single-Use Bag Reduction Ordinance

Single use plastic bags are one of the most common types of litter in streets, parks and our environment. They pollute our waterways, take up space in our landfill and use valuable resources. In an effort to make our community cleaner, safer and healthier Watsonville has joined hundreds of cities all over California and the United States in taking steps towards addressing this issue. On April 24, 2012 the Watsonville City Council passed a new ordinance restricting the use of plastic and paper bags within the City.  Chapter 6.7 to the City of Watsonville Municipal Code relating to the reduction of single-use plastic and paper carryout bags within the City. The ordinance implements the following changes, effective September 7, 2012:

  • Businesses and special events may no longer provide plastic carryout bags to customers within City Limits.
  • Businesses must charge 10 cents per paper bag provided at checkout. After one year, the charge for paper bags will increase to 25 cents. Businesses retain the funds they collect for providing paper bags. Shoppers using WIC, food stamps or other public assistance are exempt from fees.
  • Paper bags must contain at least 40% post consumer recycled paper.
  • Your receipt should indicate amount of paper bags that were provided and the price charged for them.
  • Food and beverages purchased at restaurants for consumption on the premises, for take-out or by delivery may be placed in PLASTIC OR PAPER bags and no charge is required for these bags.
  • The ordinance does not apply to plastic bags used for produce, meat, ice cream and other wet items.
  • The ordinance does not apply to paper bags to protect bottles, paper bags used to weigh candy, pharmacy paper bags or paper bags to protect greeting cards.
  • Reusable bags are encouraged when shopping. Remember to bring your reusable bags!

If you have additional questions, you may contact the Customer Service Division at 831.768.3133.