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    A: Retailers in the unincorporated areas of Bernalillo County (outside the city limits of Albuquerque and the village limits of Tijeras and Los Ranchos - click here for a map) are required to stop providing plastic single-use carryout bags and single-use polystyrene containers to customers on Jan. 1, 2020.

    A: A retail establishment will not provide at the point of sale a single-use plastic carryout bag or single-use polystyrene container to any customer.

    “Single-use plastic carryout bag” is defined as a plastic 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 the establishment.

    “Single-use polystyrene container,” for purposes of this Ordinance, is defined as a disposable food service container designed for one time use and made from polystyrene foam. A disposable food service container includes service ware for take-out foods, packaged meat, bakery products, and leftovers from partially consumed meals prepared by food vendors. If eggs or packaged meats are packaged in a polystyrene container prior to the point of sale, they will not be prohibited. Polystyrene foam is blown polystyrene and expanded or extruded foams using a styrene monomer.

    A: Yes, the county made a video in both English and Spanish that helps explain the ban. You can watch them below.



    A: A retail establishment must provide only the following carryout item types at checkout to customers: reusable bags, reusable containers, recyclable paper bags, recyclable containers, compostable bags, and/or cardboard boxes.

    “Reusable bag” is defined as a bag with handles that is specifically designed and manufactured for multiple reuse and is made of durable material suitable for reuse.

    A: Retail establishments may charge a fee of up to 5-cents ($.05) per approved bag or container issued to customers after this ordinance goes into effect.

    A: “Retail establishment” means any retail business including, but not limited to, a convenience store, restaurant, grocery store, pharmacy, home improvement stores, liquor stores, gas stations, seasonal or temporary business, farmers market or farm stand, and sellers of merchandise and dry goods to the consumer.

    For purposes of this ordinance, food banks and dry cleaners are not defined as retail establishments.

    A: This ordinance does not apply to plastic wrappings, bags or containers distributed by the manufacturer for packaging or preparing goods for display prior to sale.

    Single-use carryout bags do not include bags without handles provided to the customer to transport produce, bulk food, candy, packaged meat, bulk food, or meat packaged in the meat department prior to the point of sale; to hold prescription medication dispensed from a pharmacy; to segregate food or merchandise that could damage or contaminate other food or merchandise when placed together in a bag.

    A: No less than 60 days prior to Jan. 1, 2020, the Board of County Commissioners will initiate a public education campaign about the new regulations, encouraging the use of reusable or sustainable options and the recycling of permitted single-use items. Information is posted on the county website at, and outreach to the local news media, via social media and by other means, will reach retailers, their employees and customers.

    A: The retail establishment will post at the point of sale or on each bag a notice that the bags and containers issued, after this ordinance goes into effect, are recyclable and/or compostable and encourage recycling of the bags and containers.

    Nothing in this section shall be read to preclude retail establishments from making reusable bags and containers available for sale to customers.

    All county retail establishments are encouraged, but not required, to post notices encouraging customers to bring their own reusable shopping bags.

    A: No. The requirements only apply to bags provided to customers at checkout to carry away purchased items. Bags sold in packages containing multiple bags are not prohibited.

    A: Retail establishments will be able to use up existing stocks that were purchased before Jan. 1, 2020.

    A: Any owner of a retail establishment found in violation of any provision of this ordinance is subject to the following penalties:

    1. A formal warning for the first offense;
    2. A civil fine of $100 for the second offense;
    3. A civil fine of $250 for third offense and subsequent offenses.

    Each calendar day during which the civil violation occurs shall constitute a separate and distinct offense.

    Failure to pay a fine imposed by this article may prevent the issuance of a business license or business license renewal.

    A: The production and disposal of single-use plastic bags and single-use polystyrene containers create significant environmental impacts including the contamination of the environment, ingestion and entanglement by wildlife, and widespread litter. Single-use polystyrene containers create non-recyclable and non-degradable refuse streams while more environmentally sensitive alternatives are available. The purpose of this ordinance is to protect and enhance the county’s unique and precious environment, wildlife, and beauty through the reduction of single-use non compostable or non-recyclable bags and containers, and to encourage the use of reusable or sustainable options.

    During the second half of fiscal year 2022, a temporary administrative committee will convene to evaluate the impact of this ordinance and present a report to the Bernalillo County Board of County Commissioners before June 30, 2022.

    The report shall, at a minimum and as well as can be reasonably determined, determine the number of prohibited single-use plastic carryout bags and single-use polystyrene containers diverted from the public waste stream by this ordinance, the number of bags and containers sold or distributed at the point of sale, and the percentage of customers using reusable bags on a regular basis. The committee shall also make recommendations for changes to this act.

    Click here for a map that shows the areas of Bernalillo County that are unincorporated.

    For more information, please call the Bernalillo County Contact Center at (505) 468-7777.

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