10/23/2012-- Supervisors Take Stand for Environment: Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags and Encourage Reusable Bags 
 
10/23/2012--REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors today voted to 
protect the environment by banning the free distribution of single-use carry-out bags at retail outlets, 
the first step in what the Board hopes will be a region-wide effort. 
 
The Board voted 5 to 0 to phase out the use of plastic bags by retailers in unincorporated areas of the 
county by April 22, 2013, giving time for stores and consumers to comply with the new law and to locate 
reusable bags. (View Staff Report) 
 
“We’re going to devote time and energy over the coming months to reach out to consumers and 
businesses, educating them about the environmental benefits of the ordinance and giving them time to 
adjust,”said Board President Adrienne J. Tissier, who co-sponsored the ordinance along with Supervisor 
Carole Groom. 
 
Recognizing that plastic bags blowing in the wind, clogging creeks and streams and littering the 
environment is a regional problem, the Board also approved an Environmental Impact Report that can 
be used by 24 Peninsula cities in adopting their own ordinances. The report found that a staggering 552 
million plastic bags are used annually in the 24 cities and the unincorporated area of San Mateo County. 
 
“We’re eliminating more than 500 million plastic bags annually, to the benefit of the San Francisco Bay, 
our local rivers and creeks, and local wildlife,” said Supervisor Carole Groom. 
 
Starting April 22, 2013, shoppers requesting a paper bag would be charged a minimum of 10 cents per 
bag until Dec. 31, 2014, and 25 cents per paper bag starting Jan. 1, 2015. The ordinance is expected to 
cut down the use of disposable plastic bags by 95 percent. 
 
Environmental groups praised the Board’s action, testifying during a public hearing that plastic bags 
pose a serious environmental threat. Reducing the number of plastic bags in circulation should also save 
taxpayer dollars that will no longer need to be spent collecting the litter.