FAQs for Residents and Customers

Frequently Asked Questions for Residents and Customers:

What happens to the bag charge?

The charge is retained by the retailer to help offset the cost of bags. Thus, this ordinance is good for small businesses. The charge also acts as a disincentive for customers to take a bag and to bring reusable bags shopping.

What types of reusable bags are recommended?

Cotton canvas bags are the most durable and easiest to wash. Bags made from plastics (including polyethylene) are not easy to wash and often break earlier than intended.

What is the fee for a bag at the point of sale?

Each bag with handles provided at the point of sale will require a $0.10 minimum charge (plus sales tax). If a bag requires a double bag, two checkout bag charges must be applied. No charge will be added if you bring your own bag. In fact, some retail establishments may offer a discount for bringing a reusable bag.

What retail establishments will this affect? How will I be affected?

Retail establishments affected by this ordinance include, but are not limited to, restaurants, pharmacies, convenience and grocery stores, liquor stores, seasonal and temporary businesses, jewelry stores, and household goods stores. To avoid the fee and reduce your environmental footprint, we encourage bringing a reusable bag or declining a bag when possible.

Are any bags exempted from this ordinance?

Yes, the following bags are exempt:

a) bags, whether plastic or not, in which loose produce or products are placed by a consumer to deliver such items to the point of sale or check-out area of a Retail Establishment;
b) laundry or dry-cleaner bags;
c) newspaper bags;
d) bags used to contain or wrap frozen foods, meat or fish, whether prepackaged or not, to prevent or contain moisture.

Can businesses still offer a discount to customers bringing their own reusable bag?

Yes! In fact, we strongly encourage businesses to do so to further incentivize waste reduction. Please check with store manager for their policy.

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Dept of Public Works

147 Hampshire St
Cambridge MA 02139


Hours of Service

Monday: 8:30am-8pm
Tuesday-Thursday: 8:30am-5pm
Friday: 8:30am-12pm

Recycling Center Hours
Tuesday & Thursday: 4:00pm-7:30pm  
Saturday: 9:00am-4:00pm