Single-Use Bag Ordinance | City of San José
Environmental Impact Report

Although single-use plastic bags are convenient and easy to use, they can have severely detrimental effects on the environment if they are not carefully disposed of. Furthermore, they cannot be recycled like other plastics and, as a result, end up in landfills where they do not degrade, or get blown back into the surrounding environment, clogging drains and polluting water and other wildlife habitats.

San José adopted its Single-Use Carryout Bag Ordinance in 2011, prohibiting the free distribution of single-use carryout paper or plastic bags for all commercial retail businesses, with the exception of restaurants and charitable reuse organizations. Instead, paper bags containing at least 40 percent recycled content can be provided to customers for a minimum charge of 10 cents.

In 2010, Project Manager Mike Lisenbee prepared an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) analyzing the environmental impacts of the Ordinance. The report focused on impacts to biological resources, hydrology, air quality, and energy related to the short-term increase in paper bag production following the adopting of the single-use plastic bag ban.

The San José Single-Use Bag Ordinance EIR was the first of its kind in Northern California, and served as a model for subsequent CEQA review ordinances enacted throughout the region. Following the success of San José’s Single-Use Bag Ordinance, DJP&A prepared EIRs for similar ordinances in Alameda County (StopWaste) and Contra Costa County, both of which led to their successful adoption in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

  • DJP&A prepared EIRs for the City of San José, Alameda County, and Contra Costa County
  • Broad, program-level environmental review

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