Plastic Bag Ordinance

On November 6, 2013, the City Council adopted Ordinance No. 2089 (PDF) which bans the use of single-use, plastic carry-out bags by all stores. Starting on Earth Day, April 22, 2014, customers will need to bring a reusable bag, or purchase a paper or reusable bag for a minimum of $0.10 from retail stores in Morgan Hill. The $0.10 charge will be kept by the store. The intent of the ordinance is to reduce waste, litter, pollution and environmental impacts by using reusable bags instead of plastic and paper bags.

This ordinance is very similar to the ordinances adopted by San Jose, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Santa Clara County and many other Bay Area communities. Results from other communities indicate that bag use is reduced by approximately 90% as customers bring their own bags or carry out purchases without a bag.

Why adopt an Ordinance?
Plastic carryout bags frequently become litter and end up in creeks. These bags are difficult to remove from creek and river vegetation and are harmful to wildlife that ingest or get tangled in them. Plastic bags persist in the environment for many years, and are among the debris observed in the bay and open ocean.

The Ordinance in a Nutshell
  • Applies to all retail and grocery stores, except for restaurants, coffee shops, non-profit charitable reusers (thrift shops/food pantry).
  • Single-use plastic carryout bags are banned starting April 22, 2014. Bring a reusable bag when shopping to avoid the $0.10 per bag charge.
  • Protective bags, without handles, may be provided at no charge for meat, produce, bulk food, and prescription medications.
  • Customers paying with WIC, CalFresh, SNAP or food stamp cards are exempt from paper bag charges. Show coupons or cards to cashier before bagging begins.
Shopping With a Reusable Bag is the Best Choice
A high-quality reusable bag has the potential to replace over 600 single-use plastic bags over its lifetime. Paper bags are also problematic. It takes 14 million trees each year in the United States to produce a year's supply of paper bags for retail use. Using a reusable bag reduces litter and conserves natural resources.

Reusable Bag Tips
  • Customers may need more than one reusable bag. Many local stores sell a variety of inexpensive reusable bags.
  • Keep bags by the front door, in the car, laundry room, purse, backpack, at work, or any area that will prompt you to remember to take them with you to the store.
  • Treat cloth bags the same as your clothing and wash them regularly.
  • Routinely wipe bags that are not machine washable with a sponge and mild soap.
  • Keep enough reusable bags with you to avoid paying for paper bags at store checkout.
Reusing & Recycling Bags
Clean plastic bags, such as restaurant carryout bags, newspaper bags, dry cleaning bags, and produce bags can be recycled by placing them in your curbside recycling bin. Please “bag your bags.” Place all bags inside 1 clear bag and tie it closed before placing it in the recycle cart. Paper bags can be reused to place food waste in your yard trimmings cart. Clean paper bags can be recycled.

Still have questions? Review a list of the most frequently asked questions about the ordinance (PDF). If you have any questions about the ordinance, please send us an email or give us a call at 408-776-7333.