LETTER| Please post the actual ordinance just passed banning single use plastic bags in Kirkland


Are you able to post to your page the actual ordinance as passed? 

I would like to see the specifics -- as would many Kirklanders.  

For instance, will my favorite Chinese restaurant be able to put my tasty yet drippy take out in plastic?  What about the fishmonger using plastic to warp my fish? What about produce bags? Bulk food bags? How about the Hallmark store - will the lovely ladies be able to slide my birthday cards into the slim plastic bag to protect them? And the shops in Kirkland - are any of them allowed to use any bags without charging us? In Seattle at the Northgate Mall not one store has offered me a plastic bag, and paper bags are 5 cents --- even the big Macy's ones I need to carry a pair of new boots in their box :)

If you can do this I would be most appreciative.

Kim Convertino

Hi Kim,

Below please find the portions of the ordinance you requested. Also, I have included a link to a PDF of the entire Ordinance O-4477 passed by the Kirkland City Council on February 17, 2015.

Thanks for your support. - Rob


Here is a link to the city's web page with Council agendas and videos of their meetings:



Staff has incorporated the direction received at the study session in a draft ordinance for the City Council’s consideration. The ensuing discussion details how and where the instructions from Council were incorporated into the draft ordinance and will serve to answer the specific questions posed by the Council during the discussion. Specifically, the draft ordinance provides the ability for retailers to give rebates to customers using reusable bags, the eligibility of using Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) to pay for paper bag fees, and the efficacy of a grace period for food rescue organizations.

Paper Bag Fees KMC Section 16.05.020

Section 16.05.020 (a) of the draft ordinance requires that retail establishments charge a minimum fee of five cents for each large paper bag in order to encourage customers to use reusable bags. Retailers may collect more than five cents per large paper bag to fully recover their costs, and all revenue received from the paper bag fee will be retained by the retailer. Staff will not audit retailers to determine if they are making a profit from fees levied on large paper bags. Section 16.05.020 (d) specifically provides retailers (such as PCC) with the discretion to continue to offer nominal rebates to customers who choose to bring their own reusable bags. The City of Seattle policy has a similar provision; after approval of the Seattle plastic bag ordinance, PCC chose to continue to offer rebates to customers using reusable bags in their Seattle stores.

Effective Date Section 11

The effective date of the draft ordinance is approximately one year from the date of enactment on March 1, 2016.

Plastic Bag Exemptions List KMC Section 16.04.045

The draft ordinance retains all of the standard plastic bag exemptions provided in all other ordinances in Western Washington except for plastic bags used to contain potted plants (the exemption for cut flowers remains an exemption). It was unclear to staff if the Council also wished to also exclude plastic bags for greeting cards from the list of exemptions so the greeting card exemption remains in the proposed ordinance.

Plastic Bag Exemptions List Revision KMC Section 16.04.240

While the City Council retains the sole authority to change the Kirkland Municipal Code, this section provides the Director of Public Works or designee with rulemaking authority to adopt written rules to clarify the list of exempted plastic bags as warranted by changed conditions and new product development.

2.25 mil Plastic Bag Exemption KMC Section 16.04.146

The definition of a Reusable Bag is provided in this section and any subsection language referencing 2.25 mil or thicker plastic shopping bags as reusable has been deleted. Furthermore, Subsection 2 includes only “machine washable” and not “machine or hand washable” in order to further exclude 2.25 mil or thicker bags from the definition of a reusable bag as the 2.25 mil bags are not machine washable.

Exemptions for Special Organizations, Businesses, Groups

  1. Residents on Public Assistance - Section 16.05.020
    An exemption from the five cent large paper bag fee is provided for anyone that presents a public assistance voucher or EBT benefits card during the transaction. EBT or other public assistance programs do not cover the cost paper bag fees.

  2. Take-out Food Bags - Section 16.04.045
    A specific exemption is provided which allows disposable plastic carry-out bags to be provided to customers to transport prepared take-out foods intended for consumption away from the retail establishment.

  3. Food Rescue - Section 16.04.143
    Per the Council discussion, the ordinance provides for a one year grace period after the effective date for food rescue organizations to comply with the policy. Subsequent to the most recent Council briefing, City staff confirmed with Hopelink staff that disposable plastic bags are not prevalent in
    Hopelink’s daily operations and that Hopelink could comply with the ordinance upon the expiration of the grace period. However, Hopelink did express two concerns about the policy. First, Hopelink will have to find an alternative bag for its

“Pantry Packs” that are provided in disposable plastic bags to school age children. Second, Hopelink was concerned about the exemption status of plastic bags provided to residents during local and national food drives. Staff indicated that these plastic bags would be allowed since the food drive items are typically picked up outdoors at the curb and need to remain dry.

Enforcement KMC Section 16.05.030

Per the communications plan, Solid Waste staff will proactively work with retailers to ensure compliance on or before the effective date of the ordinance. After the effective date, Solid Waste will not expend resources to actively identify potential violations and will instead rely upon a web and phone hotline for residents and businesses to report any potential violations. Upon receipt of a potential violation, Solid Waste will coordinate with Code Enforcement to visit the business and first issue a verbal warning if the business is out of compliance. If a business continues to be out of compliance, Code Enforcement will follow its process established in Kirkland Municipal Code 1.12 which includes the opportunity for voluntary correction to pre-empt a notice of civil violation that could result in a penalty of $100 per day per violation up to a maximum of $10,000.

Definitions KMC Chapter 1.12

The definitions in KMC Sections 16.04 and 16.05 have been added by reference to KMC Chapter 1.12 Code Enforcement.