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The Little Details: Volume, Washability, and Labeling

Bag bans can be lengthy and there are devils in the little details. Here are a few that you can check quickly to ensure your bag is in full compliance.


It’s the Goldilocks dilemma:  too big, too small, or just right?  In some areas, the government wants to regulate the volume or minimum size of reusable bags so that the ban doesn’t result in bags that are too small to be useful.  Because width, height and depth can vary so much from bag to bag, most laws use volume to measure the volume of a bag.  In LA County, the minimum volume for a reusable bag must be 15 liters.  That’s the equivalent of three gallons.

It sounds like a lot, but if you picture it in cubic feet, it seems pretty modest. Picture a box 1 foot wide x 1 foot deep x 1 foot high.  Fifteen liters is .53 cubic feet.  So picture your box filled just over half way.  That’s how big a bag has to be.


The California Bag Ban, and most others, require reusable bags to be washable. Here are washing instructions for different types of reusable bags:

Thank you bags:  Banned.  Not washable.

Wave Top bags:  Wash in the sink with dish soap and hang upside down to dry. (Dry time: 12-24 hours). Or spray and wipe clean.

NWPP Bags:  Machine wash, gentle cycle, cold water. Hang dry (Dry time: ½ to 1 hour). To preserve graphics, wash only with other bags.

Laminated bags:  Wash in the sink with dish soap and hang upside down to dry.  (Dry Time: 12-24 hours) Or spray and wipe clean.

Cotton Bags: Machine wash, cold. Machine dry on low if you don’t mind shrinkage.


While the definition of reusable shopping bags are nearly identical from one area to another, the labeling requirements can vary widely from one town to the next.  This is a particular concern to stores that may operate in a few different locations.

The statewide labeling requirement for CA incorporates the main elements that most other labeling requirements contain.  It mandates statements regarding:

  • Manufacturer Name
  • Country of manufacture
  • Statement regarding reusability and number of uses it is designed for
  • Fiber content
  • Instructions for recycling
  • Statement of Post consumer recycled materials, if any
  • Statement regarding non-toxicity

The label is a key part of FDA safety and government safety standards and accountability. Check your local bag legislation to make sure you comply, or just ask us, and we’ll check for you.