KIRKLAND, Wash. – On February 17, 2015, the Kirkland City Council joined several other cities in Western Washington in adopting a plastic bag reduction policy ordinance. The new policy, scheduled to go into effect on March 1, 2016, will restrict retailers from providing single-use, disposable plastic carryout bags to customers. Kirkland’s ordinance requires large retailers to charge customers a minimum of five cent fee for each large recyclable paper bag to encourage consumers to use reusable bags. It is estimated that the new regulation will affect approximately 170 retail businesses in Kirkland. The ordinance allows for several exemptions to the plastic bag ban, including those used to contain bulk food and hardware items, frozen foods and meats, take-out food, newspaper and dry cleaning bags, and bags used for garbage and pet waste.
“Kirkland is growing and we must grow in a smart way,” states Kirkland Mayor Amy Walen. “I’m proud to see Kirkland adopt this consumer- and business-friendly legislation that shows Kirkland’s commitment to being responsible for our environment.”
Retailers will have one year to comply with the ordinance but may choose to comply sooner. The one-year grace period was provided to allow retailers to exhaust existing supplies of plastic bags and for the City to implement a comprehensive education and outreach plan. Thousands of high-quality reusable bags will be distributed to residents, a dedicated website and hotline will be available, and an information packet will be sent to businesses affected by the policy. Information on the plastic bag reduction policy is available at www.kirklandwa.gov/bringyourbag. Residents and businesses with questions can call the Recycling Hotline at 425-587-3812 or email email@example.com.
The measure passed by the Kirkland City Council is similar to ordinances adopted over the past several years in the cities of Seattle, Issaquah, Bellingham, Shoreline, and Mercer Island. Kirkland’s ordinance (Ordinance 4477) passed by a majority vote of six to one with Council Member Toby Nixon voting in opposition. To view the staff memo and to watch the meeting, go to www.kirklandwa.gov, search “On Demand” and select the February 17, 2015 meeting.[02.18.15]