Plastic Bags

The City of Coral Gables gave the final approval on May 9, 2017 to prohibit the use of single-use carry out plastic bags in Coral Gables. Retail establishments and restaurants received the benefit of a 12- month education campaign, during which the City of Coral Gables focused its efforts on educating all local businesses on the benefits of the new law and encouraging innovative ideas to eliminate single-use plastic bags. In addition to retail establishments, any entity or individual who has been issued a special event permit by the City is prohibited from providing items in single-use carry out plastic bags during special events.

Prior to the final adoption of the ordinance, City officials met with representatives from the business community to work amicably with merchants in allowing them use of their current inventory of plastic bags before transitioning to reusable or recyclable bags.

Certain exceptions exist for prescription medication bags, garbage bags and a few other limited categories. Residents will also be allowed to re-purpose carry out plastic bags.

The ultimate goal of the City of Coral Gables is to replace single-use carry out plastic bags with reusable, recyclable or compostable alternatives in order to reduce littler and pollutants on streets, parks, public spaces and waterways.

There are exemptions that allow the use of certain plastic bags such as those without handles used to protect food or merchandise from being damaged or contaminated, bags to hold prescription medications, those designed to be placed over articles of clothing on a hanger, door hanger bags, newspaper bags, garbage bags, pet waste bags and yard waste bags.

Thousands of marine animals and more than 1 million birds die each year in the United States after ingesting or becoming entangled in plastic debris. To marine animals, a plastic bag can be a floating minefield − to a sea turtle, a floating plastic bag looks like a jellyfish. Because plastic bags are so lightweight, they are easily airborne and found everywhere, littering the streets with many potential hazards and clogging up drains. Plastic bags are not accepted in most recycling collections including here in Coral Gables.

As part of this ordinance, stores in Coral Gables are encouraged to use reusable bags, compostable plastic bags (ASTM D6400 certified) and/or 40% recyclable paper bags. One reusable bag can replace hundreds or even thousands of single-use plastic bags over the course of its lifetime.

The City began issuing citations to retail establishments that failed to comply with the ordinance on May 10, 2018. Enforcement fines are per day and not per plastic bag. A $50 fine may be imposed for first-time violations, with fines increasing to $100 for a second violation, $500 for a third violation, and $1,000 for any subsequent violation within a 12-month period.

This plastic bags ordinance is similar to an ordinance enacted by the City regulating the use of polystyrene. In February 2017, the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court in Miami-Dade upheld the City’s ordinance as valid and enforceable and concluded that state statutes being used in an effort to prevent the City of Coral Gables from enforcing the ordinance were unconstitutional.

Single-Use Plastic Bags Ordinance -2017-13 Signed.pdf

For more information, please contact Matt Anderson at 305-460-5008 or

Additional Resources

Retail Establishments.jpg Special Events.jpg
Plastic Bags Educational Flyer for Retail Establishments Plastic Bags Educational Flyer for Special Events

Additional Resources

Reference in this site to any specific commercial product, process, or service, or the use of any trade, firm or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public, and does not constitute endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the City of Coral Gables.

If you have any additional questions on the plastic bag ordinance please call Matt Anderson at 305-460-5008 or email at