Plastic Bag Reduction Policy

Plastic Bag Reduction Policy Effective March 1, 2016

Effective March 1, 2016, plastic bags are restricted at checkout in Kirkland. Retailers may continue to provide plastic bags for takeout food, frozen food, meat, dry cleaning, newspaper delivery, and in-store plastic bags used for bulk products. Stores may continue to sell plastic bags used for garbage and pet waste. A minimum 5-cent fee, kept by the business, will be charged for full-size paper bags. Retailers keep all five cents of the bag fee to defray the higher cost of the bags.

A statewide plastic bag policy is expected to take effect in 2021, and will replace Kirkland's policy with different rules. Businesses should continue to follow the City's policy until the state policy takes effect.

Permanent Suspension of Five-Cent Fee Requirement for Some Businesses

On April 19, 2016, the Kirkland City Council approved a temporary suspension of the five cent fee that retailers are required to charge customers for grocery-size paper bags. On April 18, 2017, the Kirkland City Council made the exemption permanent. The suspension applies to the majority of retail businesses in Kirkland. Only grocery stores, convenience stores, superstores, and pharmacies will be required to charge for large paper bags. Other businesses may continue to charge for bags at their discretion. Note that this exemption will not apply under the new state policy, which will supersede the City's policy when it takes effect.

How Kirkland's Plastic Bag Policy Works

  • Plastic bags not allowed at checkout in Kirkland
  • Large paper bags require a five-cent fee at grocery stores, convenience stores, drug stores, gas stations, and warehouse clubs
  • Businesses keep the five-cent fee on paper bags
  • Restaurants and delis may continue to provide plastic bags for takeout food
  • Low-income customers presenting EBT cards are exempt from the five-cent fee

The statewide plastic bag policy will have different requirements.

plastic bag policy restrictions

Additional Information for Businesses

  • Carryout plastic bags are restricted at point of sale, with exemptions for prepared food, damp items, newspaper, and dry-cleaning bags
  • Large paper bags (1/8 barrel / 882 cu in or larger) require a minimum five-cent fee by grocery stores, convenience stores, drug stores, gas stations, and warehouse clubs (based on NAICS code)
  • The five-cent fee for paper bags is taxable
  • The number of bags sold must be listed on receipts
  • Thicker plastic bags are not allowed
  • In-store plastic bags like produce bags, bulk item bags, and bags for meat are exempt
  • Small paper bags may be provided for free
  • Printable signage is available, email the Recycling Hotline to request the files


Contact the Recycling Hotline with other questions.