Single-Use items Bylaw Shopping bag requirements

What your business needs to know

Businesses can only provide new paper or reusable bags if:

  • Staff asks the customer if they require a shopping bag,
  • A customer asks for a shopping bag or takes from a self-serve area,
  • A customer answers a prompt on an ordering platform.

Businesses are required to charge a minimum price for bags.

Contact us

If you have questions regarding the bylaw or the repeal, fill out the online service request below or contact 311.

Supporting documents

Minimum mandatory fees

This applies to in-store, take out, drive-thru and delivery orders.

New paper shopping bags

Must charge at least 15 cents in 2024.

Minimum charge increases to 25 cents in 2025.

New reusable shopping bags

Must charge at least $1 in 2024.

Minimum charge increases to $2 in 2025.

The fee is kept by businesses and serves two purposes:

  • To encourage customers to bring their own reusable bag.
  • To help businesses recover the costs of the new paper and reusable bags.


Shopping bags are any bag used for transporting items sold or otherwise provided by a business. This includes, but is not limited to bags provided for in-store, take-out, drive-thru, delivery and online ordering.

Bag exemptions

The following types of shopping bags are exempt, minimum fees are not required:

  • Small paper bags (400 sq cm or less when laid flat).
  • Bags used to:
    • package bulk items such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, candy, or dry goods.
    • package loose bulk items such as hardware or fasteners.
    • protect bakery goods that are not prepackaged.
    • protect items from becoming dirty or unusable (e.g., newspaper bag, dry cleaning, flowers).
    • package prescription drugs from a pharmacy.
    • contain or wrap meat, poultry, fish, or frozen foods.
    • wrap flowers or potted plants.
  • Shopping bags that have already been used by a customer and returned to a business for the purpose of being reused by other customers e.g. Take-a-Bag, Leave-a-Bag” programs.
Package loose bulk items such as hardware or fasteners.
Exemption: bags used to package loose bulk items such as hardware or fasteners.
A small paper bag (400 sq cm or less when laid flat).
Exemption: small paper bags (400 sq cm or less when laid flat).

What your business needs to do

Update your in-store, online, mobile app, and telephone point-of-sale systems so they:

  • Allow customers the ability to indicate no bag or to request one and,
  • The fee is charged when a bag (new paper and reusable) is requested.

Ensure bag fees are shown as a separate line item on any receipts provided to customers. Suggested wording ‘paper bag’ and ‘reusable bag’.

Train staff to ask customers if they need a paper or reusable shopping bag before providing one.

Businesses with drive-thrus

Minimum charges for paper bags

  • The bag fee applies to orders that are placed in a bag and handed to customers at the drive-thru window. Exemption: Bags that are smaller than 400 square centimeters are bylaw exempt and can be used for loose items like a baked goods.
  • The bylaw does not require fees for any wrapping that is in direct contact with food, such as burger wrappers, or fry boxes. 

Customer service and the Single-use Items Bylaw

When a customer places their order, ask if they need a bag, make them aware of the charge and ask them what foodware accessories (condiments, utensils and napkins) they require.

When customers choose not to take a bag at the drive-thru:

  • Use a serving tray to make it easier and sanitary to hand over individual food items.
  • Encourage customers to use mobile ordering and pick up at designated parking spots (if available), making it easier to hand individual food items over.

Shopping bag FAQ

Are drive thrus and take-away restaurants required to comply with the bylaw requirements?

Yes, drive thrus and take-away restaurants must comply. Businesses must:

  • Charge the minimum fee for new paper or new reusable shopping bags.
  • Provide new paper or new reusable shopping bags by request only.
  • Provide foodware accessories by request only.

Are food delivery and grocery delivery services required to comply with the bylaw requirements?

Yes, food delivery and grocery delivery services must comply. Businesses must:

  • Charge the minimum fee for new paper or new reusable shopping bags.
  • Provide new paper or new reusable shopping bags by request only.
  • Provide foodware accessories by request only.

Can I reuse packaging items ( i.e. boxes or shipping bags) in replacement of “shopping bags” and would I need to charge the minimum fee?

  • Yes, you can reuse boxes or other shipping materials in replacement of “shopping bags”. The minimum mandatory fees would not be required.
  • We recommend you only provide these options on request, not by default.

My online business packages items in shipping bags of various materials including plastic and cellophane. Can I continue to use this plastic packaging?

  • This would be considered primary packaging. This type of packaging is not included in the Federal Single-use Plastics Regulations or The City’s single-use items bylaw.
  • Plastic checkout bags are banned under the Federal regulations. Other types of plastic packaging are not impacted by the Federal regulations.
  • The City’s minimum bag fees and by request requirements are intended for online grocery and food ordering where a “shopping bag” is used to package the order. 

Why is The City of Calgary introducing bylaw requirements for shopping bags and other single-use items?

These convenience items create a staggering amount of waste. They can be found littered in our parks and communities, and end up in the landfill. Producing, using and disposing these items uses up natural resources, and causes harm to our water bodies, ecosystems and wildlife.

Why can’t we switch to compostable or biodegradable plastic shopping bags?

On December 20, 2023, the Government of Canada is banning the distribution of plastic shopping bags that are labelled as compostable or biodegradable. They will not be available anywhere in Canada.

How were the minimum fees for bags set?

The fees for new paper and new reusable shopping bags have been set so that they are high enough to give customers an incentive to bring their own reusable bags. Calgarians can avoid paying the fee by bringing their own reusable bag or tote from home.

What do I do with the fee from new paper and reusable bags?

Fees from new paper and reusable bags will be kept by the business to help offset costs of purchasing these items. We encourage businesses to use any net revenue to further initiatives to reduce single-use items such as offering a deposit-return system for reusable bags or totes, setting up a bag share program, or donating reusable bags to a local charity that provides food, clothing, or other items to Calgarians in need.

Are bag fees subject to GST?


Does the minimum charge on reusable bags apply to bags that customers own and bring to the store?

No, the charge only apply to new reusable shopping bags and paper shopping bags provided to customers.

Can I charge more than the minimum on new paper and reusable bags?

Yes, businesses can choose to charge more than the minimum as part of their own operational practices.

Can I subsidize the cost of new paper or reusable bags and provide them for free to my customers?

No, the minimum fees must be charged on all new paper and reusable shopping bags.

Do I need to communicate the bag charge to customers?

Yes.  Businesses must prominently display information about the fees charged in a location visible to a customer at the time and place of purchase (e.g. till, online platform).

The business must also indicate the fee as a separate line item on any receipt given to the customer using wording such as “PAPER BAGS” and “REUSABLE BAGS”.

What if a customer refuses to pay the fee?

If a customer refuses to pay the fee they do not receive a new paper or reusable bag and must carry their items as is.

What is the new paper bag material requirement and how should it be labeled?

Paper shopping bags must contain at least 40% recycled content as indicated in print on the bag. 

Do the bylaw requirements apply to all types and sizes of new paper shopping bags?

The mandatory minimum fee applies to paper shopping bags more than 400 square centimeters when flat.

What is the new reusable bag material requirements?

A “reusable shopping bag” means a shopping bag made of any type of material, excluding film plastic and paper, and is designed and manufactured to be durable enough for multiple uses, and is capable of being washed or disinfected.

Can I refuse to accept a customer’s reusable shopping bag because of safety or cleanliness concerns?

If a business feels it would not be safe or sanitary to use a customer provided reusable shopping bag, you can politely refuse it.

Am I required to provide new paper or reusable shopping bags to customers?

No, if your business wants to go “bag free” you may choose to do so.

What do I do with excess Federal banned plastic items (i.e., plastic shopping bags)?

Prior to December 20, 2023, you can try and use up your existing stock. You can try and donate items to a charity that might be able to use them. You can also give them to employees and friends to use (i.e., plastic bags as garbage bin liners).

As per Federal regulations banned plastic items cannot be distributed to customers after December 20, 2023. The City is not sure how the Government of Canada plans to enforce this. It is not within our authority to enforce federal Regulations.

What does by request mean?

By request includes:

  • when a customer asks staff for a bag/foodware accessories or selects from a self-serve area.
  • When staff asks the customer if they require a bag/foodware accessories.
  • When a customer answers a prompt requesting specific foodware accessories on an ordering platform.

What do I do with extra plastic bags?

Businesses with extra plastic bag stock can try and donate them to a charity that might be able to use them. Or recycle them as per your business (hauler) recycling requirements.