Grocers gear up for SoCal bag ordinances

not a plastic bagWhen Long Beach passed its carryout bag ordinance on May 17th, it became the fourth jurisdiction in Southern California to pass such an law. Despite the failure of the Legislature to pass AB 1998 and create a single state-wide standard, SoCal governments have mostly passed bills that closely mirror the County of Los Angeles, which was the first jurisdiction to pass such an ordinance in the region.

There are only a few weeks left before most grocers must begin implementing the new regulations. A few things to consider:

1) CGA is producing a poster that you can post in your stores to prepare your customers for Los Angeles County ordinance.

2) The County is prepared to cooperate with stores to give out free reusable bags and educate consumers about the upcoming changes to the checkout process. If you are interested in working with the County, call Nilda Gemeniano at 626-458-5184.

3) LA County information

4) Santa Monica information

5) Calabasas information

6) Long Beach information

In addition, the County has provided CGA with some answers to common questions about the their ordinance:

1) For EBT customers, do we give free recyclable paper bags to the customers that are purchasing taxable non food items with the cash portion of their publically funded EBT card?

WIC and SNAP participants are the only customers to be provided free carryout bags for their purchases. Affected stores would develop and incorporate into their operations methods of confirming customer participation in these programs.

2) Do we charge 10 cents for the small bags such as number #8, #12 and #735? Sometimes these small bags are used to wrap and protect individual items, such as wine and glassware, and sometimes these bags are used as final carryout bags for small items.

When paper bags are being used as carryout bags, they must be charged 10 cents/bag.

3) Are the small poly carryout bags that are used for greeting cards authorized to keep in the stores, and do we charge 10 cents for them?

Affected stores must not use any plastic carryout bags except for produce/food bags. Paper bags that are used to carry out greeting cards and other small items will be charged 10 cents/bag. The stores should ask the customer if they want a bag.

4) We have a large carryout bag with handles for our hot food in the Service Delis. Do we need to discontinue using this bag? If we are authorized to keep this bag, do we charge the 10 cent fee?

If the service deli is part of the affected store, then they must stop using plastic carryout bags. If this large carryout bag is a paper bag, the deli/store must charge 10 cents/bag.

5) Do we charge sales tax on the 10 cent bag fee?

Los Angeles County is not a taxing agency. In developing the Ordinance, we contacted the State Board of Equalization. They advised us that since the paper carryout bag is a “container”, it falls under the Container Rule – Reg. 1589. As long as there are taxable items in the paper bag the charge would be subject to tax, but if there are no taxable items in the paper bag the charge would not be subject to tax.