Safeway doesn't offer the new compostable plastic bags, but instead now provides customers with a slightly smaller paper bag in addition to its standard-size paper bag with handles (November 2007) In March 2007, San Francisco became the first city in the country to ban stores from bagging purchases in the common petroleum-based bags that are so rarely recycled and often end up floating down the street. On November 20, 2007, the ordinance — titled the Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance — took full effect on grocery stores with gross sales of at least $2 million. Pharmacies with more than four San Francisco branches will have to comply within six months of that date. Under this ordinance, the affected businesses are forbidden from handing out old-school plastic bags, and instead offer paper, compostable plastic or reusable bags.

The constantly growing list of grocery stores that sell reusable bags includes Safeway, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and Rainbow Grocery.

All supermarkets are required by law to provide plastic bag recycling bins at all of their stores.