Plastic Bag Ban

Ban on Plastic Single-Use Carryout Bags


The ordinance took effect for grocery stores and food vendors on January 15, 2014.

At the December 7, 2015 City Council meeting, council voted 3-2 to remove the ban on plastic, single use bags from retailers other than grocery and food outlet establishments.

Therefore, grocery stores and food vendors are the only required establishments who cannot provide a “Plastic Single-Use Carry-Out Bag.”

Restaurants are excluded from this ordinance.

The ordinance bans the plastic single-use carry-out bags and paper bags which fall below 40% recycled content by retailers within the City of South Lake Tahoe.


  • A “Plastic Single-Use Carry-Out Bag” is defined as a bag, other than a re-usable carry-out bag or recycled paper bag, provided at the check stand, cash register, point of sale, or other point of departure for the purpose of transporting food or merchandise out of a retail establishment.
  • A “Food Vendor” is defined as a business located within the City of South Lake Tahoe which sells perishable food products. This includes vendors at Farmers Markets.
  • Plastic single-use carry-out bags that do not include handles and are provided to the customer: (1) to transport produce, bulk food or meat department products within a store to the point of sale; (2) to hold prescription medication dispensed from a pharmacy; or (3) to segregate food or merchandise that could damage or contaminate other food or merchandise when placed together in a bag are excluded by this ordinance.

History and Purpose of the Ordinance

The City of South Lake Tahoe Sustainability Commission first considered the initiative of banning single use plastic bags in 2008. The City Council adopted a Sustainability Plan in 2008, which included the development of “Zero Waste Policies” and promotion of “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle Practices” and adopted the Sustainability Commission’s Work Plan, which included the initiative.

A work program was launched in 2009, which included community forums and public workshops in 2010 and 2011. Informal updates on the progress of the initiative were presented to the City Council during Commission Reports.

In November 2012, a draft ordinance on a potential ban of plastic bags was presented to City Council. Following discussion and City Council direction, the ordinance was amended and brought back to the City Council in the summer of 2013. The ordinance was further amended and adopted in October 2013.

On October 15, 2013, the City of South Lake Tahoe adopted Ordinance 1061, which eliminates the distribution of single use plastic bags under the City’s Code, Article VI, Chapter 23 entitled “Ban on Plastic Single-Use Carry-Out Bags.”

Ordinance 1061 (PDF)
Staff Report on Ordinance 1061 from October 15, 2013 (PDF)

The purpose of the ordinance is to eliminate the plastic single-use carry-out bags because of the impact the plastic bags have on the environment.

Compliance with Ordinance

Future City Council meetings could include modifications to the ordinance to address issues and concerns determined through implementation of the ordinance.

Compliance by grocery stores and food vendors is required by January 15, 2014.