Like single-use bottles and food containers, plastic bags are highly energy intensive products – a lot of fossil fuels are used to make and transport them to stores. Single use plastics have a very low recycling rate, and there is not a robust recycling market for the small percentage that makes it to a blue bin. Their lightweight composition allows them to escape easily from trash cans, meaning they end up in our oceans, streams, and rivers. They then photodegrade into tiny bits that never go away. Our oceans are filling up with these plastic bits, where they attract other chemicals and become toxic ‘pills’ that work their way up the food chain. The disposal side of plastics, like so many other fossil fuel products, is not taken into account when calculating their cost.


City of Santa Barbara Bag Ban: 90% of Plastic Bags Eliminated

Over several years, CEC built a strong case for a plastic bag ban, advocating at the government level and raising public awareness. On October 15, 2013 the SB City Council adopted a single use bag ordinance for the City of Santa Barbara to encourage consumers to provide their own reusable bags. The ordinance went into effect for large (Tier 1) grocery stores (over 10,000 sq ft) in May 2014, smaller (Tier 2) stores in July 2014, and all stores with groceries in November 2104.

Under the ordinance, which eliminated 90% of the 47 million bags used annually in the city, single use plastic carryout bags are prohibited and paper bags cost 10 cents each. Exemptions to the law include retail shops, take-out restaurant food and produce bags. Learn more about the ordinance.

Santa Barbara County Bag Ban: 60 Million Bags Eliminated

Thanks to a coalition led by CEC, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors adopted a plastic bag ban on August 25, 2015 for unincorporated areas of the county, including the Santa Ynez Valley, Isla Vista, Orcutt, Lompoc and much of Los Alamos Valley. Starting in 2016, this decision will eliminate more than 60 million bags from being distributed each year. Read more about the ban here.

The cities of Goleta and Ventura are considering similar ordinances pending the outcome of SB270, California’s Plastic Bag Ban which will be determined in the November 2016 election.

California Bag Ban

More than 138 bag bans are in place in California, and all have seen great success in switching to reusable bags.

In September of 2014, a bag ban for the entire state, Senate Bill 270, was signed into law, but by February 2015, the plastic bag manufacturing trade group, American Progressive Bag Alliance, had collected enough referendum signatures to stall the bill and put it up for the November 2016 ballot. Senate Bill 270 (Senators Padilla, De León, and Lara) would ban all large grocery stores and pharmacies from providing single-use carryout plastic bags at check out, and would require a ten cent fee for recycled paper or reusable plastic bags.


Spread the Message

Share the importance of using reusable bags with your friends, neighbors, and kids.

Cast Your Vote

Make sure to go to the ballots on November 16, 2016 and say yes to a ban on plastic bags.

Stay Informed

Subscribe to CEC’s monthly newsletter and Facebook page to hear the latest information on plastic bag use and laws.