This page is dedicated to the Plastic Bag Ban in Huntington Beach. If you would like to help in anyway with the Plastic Bag Ban please signup on our Volunteer Page. Thank you for your time and efforts!

Why ban bags now?


With over 8 miles of sandy beaches, the longest stretch of uninterrupted beach front anywhere on the West Coast, the city of Huntington Beach is responsible for four distinct beaches which consist of: Huntington City Beach, Bolsa State Beach, Dog Beach and Huntington State Beach. Additionally, the area includes the exceptional Bolsa Chica Biological Reserve.

These beaches and the reserve are some of Huntington Beach’s most important economic and popular recreational and ecological resources for generations to come. Unfortunately, there is an immediate and viable threat to these natural treasures and marine inhabitants and that is the single-use plastic bag and plastic trash in general.


Here are a few reasons that a local plastic bag ban is needed:


• Plastics comprise up to 90% of floating marine debris.[1]


• In 2009 about 3.8 million tons of waste plastic “bags, sacks and wraps” were generated in the United States, but only 9.4% of this total was recycled.[2]


• Plastics do not biodegrade, but instead break down into small particles that persist in the ocean, absorb toxins, and enter our food chain through fish, sea birds and other marine life.[3]


• Plastic bags are problematic in the litter stream because they float easily in the air and water, traveling long distances and never fully breaking down in water.


• Cleanup of plastic bags is costly. California spends $25 million annually to landfill discarded plastic bags, and public agencies spend more than $300 million annually in litter cleanup.[4]


• It is estimated that Americans go through about 100 billion plastic bags a year, or 360 bags per year for every man, woman and child in the country.[5]

The HB/SB Surfrider Foundation bi-monthly beach cleanups of select sections of City and State beaches average 400-500 lbs. of miscellaneous trash collected by volunteers during a four-hour period. The majority of trash is plastic debris from plastic bags, bottle caps, straws, wrappings etc. Many of the volunteers are from neighboring Southern California counties.


Will all plastic carryout bags be banned?


Yes. Plastic carryout bags or any carryout bag made predominantly of plastic (either petroleum, natural gas or a biologically-based source, such as corn or other plants) that has handles provided to a customer at the grocery store cash register.


Will I get a paper bag instead?


During manufacturing, both paper and plastic bags emit global warming gases; create water pollution and use raw materials and energy. Using a paper bag as a substitute to plastic is not the answer; a reusable bag is. However, if you didn’t bring a reusable bag and you must have a bag, you will have to buy a paper bag for 10 cents (or carry your items in your arms).


The paper bags must be 100% recyclable and contain a minimum of 40% postconsumer recycled material and display the word “Recyclable” in a highly visible manner on the outside of the bag.


What do I put my green beans and meat in?


The bag ban does not include produce bags or product bags. That means any bag without handles used exclusively to carry produce, meats, bread or other food items to the cash register will not be included in the ban. [*These can be reused for pet litter.]


What happens to the 10 cents collected by the store?


Monies collected by a store for paper bags will be retained by the store and may be used only for:


•Costs associated with complying with the requirements of the ban.


•Actual costs of providing recyclable paper carryout bags.


•Costs associated with a store’s educational materials or education campaign encouraging the use of reusable bags.


What if I can’t afford reusable bags?


All stores must provide bags free of charge to any customer participating either in the California Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children or in the Supplemental Food Program.


What stores are covered by the ban?


Hopefully you will make the choice to use reusable bags everywhere, but plastic carry out bags will no longer be available at any of the following retail establishments located within the city limits of Huntington Beach:




•Large retail stores


•Liquor stores and food marts


Benefits of Implementing Widespread Use of Reusable Bags


•Significant cost savings to taxpayers – less money spent on litter cleanup, enforcement, and prevention.


•Fewer plastic bags littering our community & waterways.


•Fewer impacts to the marine environment (marine wildlife, such as sea turtles and whales ingest littered plastic bags, that they mistake for food).


•Fewer natural resources consumed.


How will the City help consumers prepare for this?


While stores may choose to provide paper checkout bags to their customers, alleviating impacts on consumers, the City will also continue reusable bag outreach, education and distribution and will make bags available to those low-income residents and seniors who request them.


What kind of single use plastic checkout bags will be exempt from the ban?


Single-use plastic bags exempt from this ban include single-use plastic bags provided solely for:


• Produce,


• Bulk food,


• Meat, and


• Privacy bags provided at a pharmacy for prescription


Prohibited single-use plastic checkout bags are defined as non-reusable plastic bags provided by a store to a customer at the point of sale.


How will I pick up dog waste?


Produce and bulk bags from the grocery or market will still be available. Newspaper cover bags and dog waste bags are also options.


How can I remember to bring my reusable bags to the store?


Here are a few useful tips:


• Always start your shopping list with “Bring Reusable Bags.”


• Keep a collapsible bag in your purse, backpack, or briefcase for last-minute runs to the store.


• Keep reusable bags in your vehicle.


• Place a post it note in your car.


What other locations have banned plastic bags or has enacted a single-use bag policy?


Huntington Beach is not the first city to address this issue. Many jurisdictions have passed some sort of single-use plastic checkout bag policy, including bans and/or mandatory fees.


• Fee: Washington, D.C., Ireland, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Holland, Taiwan, Bellingham, WA, Los Angeles County, Malibu, Long Beach, San Jose, Sonoma County.


• Ban: San Francisco, Oakland, Maui, Mexico City, China, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Mumbai, South Africa.


The recent measure by the Huntington Beach City Council to develop an ordinance to Ban the single use plastic bag is a wonderful testament to the City of Huntington Beach’s commitment to keep its beaches clean and its marine life thriving.

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