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 at checkout.
Paper bags or thick plastic bags may be provided to customers for a minimum of eight cents each. Paper bags must have a minimum of 40% recycled content. Stores keep the eight cents to help cover the cost of providing bags. Everyone is encouraged to use and sell reusable bags.
Customers who use WIC, TANF, SNAP, and FAP food assistance programs will not be charged the bag fee.
Tips for remembering your 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.
- 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 un-bagged groceries to your cart and bag your groceries at your vehicle instead.
- Let the carryout bag fee be a reminder to bring your bag.
Who passed the plastic bag ordinances?
- Kitsap Board of County Commissioners adopted the Kitsap County reusable bag ordinance (PDF) on August 12, 2019.
- Bremerton City Council adopted the Bremerton reusable bag ordinance (PDF) on June 6, 2019.
- Port Orchard City Council adopted the Port Orchard reusable bag ordinance (PDF) on August 20, 2019.
Information for Residents
- Pick up a FREE reusable bag at one of our Bring Your Own Bag giveaway sites. Available while supplies last, one per person.
Frequently Asked Questions for Residents
- Why is there a fee for carryout bags? By charging a carryout bag fee, the county and cities 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.
- 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
Learn More: Are you a business owner/operator in unincorporated Kitsap County, City of Bremerton, or City of Port Orchard? For more information, download the FAQs for Businesses (PDF), read the FAQs below, or review the ordinance that applies to your business:
- Kitsap County ordinance (PDF).
- City of Bremerton ordinance (PDF)
- City of Port Orchard ordinance (PDF)
Kitsap County Solid Waste Division is currently working with retailer and restaurant associations to provide outreach to their local members. If your business is not represented by an association and you have questions about implementing the ordinance, please contact Eirik O'Neal.
Frequently Asked Questions for Businesses
- What is the Bring Your Own Bag – Plastic Bag Ordinance? Starting January 1, 2020, retailers in unincorporated Kitsap County, City of Bremerton, and City of Port Orchard are prohibited from offering thin plastic carryout bags to customers. Paper or thick plastic bags may be provided to customers for a minimum pass-through fee of $0.08 each. Stores keep the pass-through fee to help cover the cost of providing bags. Everyone is encouraged to use and sell reusable bags.
- What businesses are affected? All retail businesses in unincorporated Kitsap County, City of Bremerton, and City of Port Orchard are affected by the ordinance, 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.
- Are there any exemptions? Food banks and other food assistance programs in unincorporated Kitsap County and City of Port Orchard are exempt from the requirements; however, City of Bremerton food banks and food assistance programs are affected by the ordinance. Thin plastic bags may be used for prepared take‐out foods or liquids that could damage or contaminate other items if not in a plastic bag.
- What carryout bags are allowed by the ordinance? Under the ordinance, retail establishments may provide consumers large paper bags and thick 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 paper or thick plastic bag? No, you are not required to provide bags to customers. If you choose to provide bags, you must charge $0.08 for large paper bags or thick plastic bags. You cannot provide thin, single-use plastic carryout bags less than 2.25 mils in thickness.
- What is the required carryout pass-through fee? Retailers are required to charge a minimum of $0.08 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 the pass-through fee for paper or thick plastic bags prior to January 1, 2020 and the charge should be clearly indicated on the customer transaction receipt.
- Do I have to charge the customer the pass-through fee? Yes, customers must pay the fee for each paper and/or thick plastic bag, thereby encouraging the customer to bring their own reusable bag instead of purchasing a disposable one.
- Are all customers required to pay the pass-through fee? Customers who have the following benefits will not pay the pass-through fee when they receive a paper or thick plastic bag during checkout: Women Infants and Children (WIC), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the Washington State Food Assistance Program (FAP).
- Where does the pass-through fee go? The pass-through fee is retained by the retailer to offset the cost of providing recycled content paper bags or thick plastic bags (at least 2.25 mils thick) which are generally more expensive than thin plastic bags.
- How will the ordinance be enforced? Enforcement of the plastic bag ordinance will be complaint-based.
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 responsibility to protect our oceans. Too many plastic bags end up in Puget Sound where they do not biodegrade. Plastic bags break down into 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.
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