Bring Your Own Bag - Plastic Bag Ordinance

Plastic Bag Ordinances for Kitsap County, Bremerton, and Port Orchard

Starting January 1, 2020, retailers in Kitsap County, City of Bremerton, and City of Port Orchard are prohibited from offering thin plastic carryout bags to customers. Paper bags or thick plastic bags may be provided to customers for a minimum of eight cents each. Stores keep the eight cents to help cover the cost of providing bags. Everyone is encouraged to use and sell reusable bags.

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What bags are banned?

  • Plastic bags provided at checkout of all retail stores (less than 2.25 mils thick).

  • Exceptions: plastic bags used for packaging meat, seafood, produce, bulk items, frozen foods, food storage baggies, garbage bags, pet waste bags, yard waste bags, newspaper, tires, flowers, laundry or dry cleaning, and door-hangers.

  • Plastic bags that are still allowed cannot be colored green or brown. Only compostable bags can be green or brown and they must be labeled "compostable." Example: produce bags cannot be green or brown.


What stores?

  • All retail stores and home delivery services including grocery stores; corner and convenience stores; pharmacies; department stores; home improvement stores; clothing stores; farmers markets; food and catering trucks; fair, event, and festival vendors; and all other establishments that sell goods.

  • All retail stores and home delivery services.

  • Where it does not apply: for prepared take‐out foods or liquids that could damage or contaminate other items if not in a plastic bag.

What about paper?

  • Retailers may provide paper bags made of at least 40% recycled paper for a minimum 8 cent pass-through charge that retailers keep to offset the cost of providing bags.

  • Low income customers who qualify for WIC, TANF, SNAP, and FAP food assistance programs shall be provided paper bags at no charge.

What's the problem with plastic bags?

  • Washingtonians use more than 2 billion single-use plastic bags each year. Kitsap County alone uses approximately 87 million plastic bags annually and only 12% are recycled.

  • As a coastal community, we have a responsiblity to protect our oceans. Too many plastic bags end up in Puget Sound where they do not biodegrade. Plastic bags break down into smaller and smaller pieces that remain hazardous as they are consumed by filter-feeders, shellfish, fish, turtles, marine mammals, and birds. PCB levels in Chinook salmon from Puget Sound are 3 to 5 times higher than any other West Coast populations. In 2010, a beached gray whale was found to have 20 plastic bags in its stomach! Keeping Plastics Out of Puget Sound, Environment Washington Report, November 2011

  • Recycling is not a good solution for bags. Plastic bags cannot be put into curbside recycling programs because they tangle in sorting equipment. Tangled bags cause delays, increase costs, and put workers at risk. Used plastic bags are not in high demand. Only a few product manufacturers recycle old bags to create new products. These new products are not recyclable and are landfilled at their end of their useful life.

Who passed the ordinance?

 Information for residents

Pick up a FREE bag

Pick up a FREE reusable bag during regular hours at Kitsap Regional Libraries, North Kitsap Senior Citizens Center, or Givens Community and Senior Center. Or visit one of our pop-up Bring Your Own Bag tables. Available while supplies last, one per person.


Frequently Asked Questions

Why is there a fee for carryout bags? By charging a carryout bag fee, the county and city are incentivizing consumers to switch to reusable bags to reduce waste.

What happens to the paper bag fee? The retailer keeps the fee to help pay for the cost of providing paper bags.

What are tips for remembering my reusable bags? Get in the habit of placing your keys, wallet, cell phone, or purse on top of your bags so you remember to return them to your vehicle or bring them into the store. Other ideas include:

  • Place a reminder sign by your door or in your vehicle.

  • Keep bags in the front of your vehicle where you can see them.

  • Write "bring bags" at the top of your grocery list.

  • If you shop with others, designate someone in your family or household to be in charge of remembering bags.

  • Return bags to your vehicle, bag, or doorknob right after unloading groceries.

  • Store multiple bags inside each other so you can grab them easily.

  • Put small bags in your backpack or purse.

  • If you forget your bags in your vehicle, simply return your unbagged groceries to your cart and bag your groceries at your vehicle instead.

  • Let the carryout bag fee be a reminder to bring your bag.

How can I keep reusable bags clean? Wash your bags regularly for your health and safety. Consider designating specific bags for carrying meat, seafood, produce, and cleaning products to avoid contamination. Likewise, consider having some reusable bags for non-food purchases like books and household items that won’t need to be washed as often.

How can I line my garbage can or pick up pet waste? Rolled and boxed trash bags and pet waste bags will still be for sale. You can also reuse other common plastic bags, like those from bread, produce, cereal, etc.

How do I recycle plastic bags? Plastic bags are accepted for recycling at many grocery stores. Visit plasticfilmrecycling.com for locations.


 Information for businesses

Please check back for more resources as we approach January 1, 2020.


Frequently Asked Questions

Are any retailers exempt from charging carryout bag fees? No retailers are exempt.

What carryout bags are allowed by the ordinance? Under the ordinance, retail establishments may provide consumers large paper bags and durable “reusable” plastic bags as carryout bags. To qualify, paper carryout bags (1/8 barrel or 882 cubic inches or greater in size) must contain at least 40% recycled paper. Plastic carryout bags must be at least 2.25 mils thick.

Are retailers required to provide a reusable plastic or paper bag? No, you are a not required to provide bags to customers. If you choose to provide bags, you must charge 8 cents for large paper bags or thick reusable plastic bags. You cannot provide thin, single-use plastic carryout bags less than 2.25 mils in thickness.

What is the required carryout bag fee? Retailers are required to charge a minimum of 8 cents for each carryout bag provided to a consumer. This fee is kept by the retailer and intended to defray the cost of implementing the ordinance. Retailers may begin charging customers an 8 cent fee for paper or thick plastic bags prior to January 1, 2020.

What can retailers do with excess single-use plastic bags? Retailers can continue to use thin, single-use bags that were on site prior to January 1, 2020.

Is the carryout bag fee subject to retail sales tax? Yes, the carryout bag fee is subject to sales tax and must be shown on the customer’s sales receipt.


​Questions?

Retailers and residents with questions about implementation of the bag ban in unincorporated Kitsap County or City of Port Orchard should contact solidwaste@co.kitsap.wa.us or 360-337-5777.

Retailers or residents in City of Bremerton should contact Bremerton1@ci.Bremerton.wa.us or 360-473-5920.