A list of frequently asked questions is provided below and regularly updated by City staff.

Why are single-use plastic bags harmful?

It is estimated that Lawrence residents use and discard between 29 and 36 million single-use disposable plastic bags every year.

The use of these bags has significant global environmental consequences, including the overuse of natural resources and the generation of dangerous greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition, single-use plastic bags…

  • Are frequently ingested by animals, which contributes to animal morbidity and mortality.
  • Degrade into microplastics that subsequently contaminate our food and water supplies.
  • Are difficult to recycle and end up contaminating material that is recyclable and processed through the City’s recycling and composting programs.
  • Create a burden on the City’s solid waste disposal program, which increases the cost of that service for Lawrence residents.
  • Pollute the City’s streets, sidewalks, open areas, and waterways, which has a negative effect on the health, safety, and welfare of the environment, as well as its aesthetics.
Can I pay a fee to continue using single-use plastic bags?

No. Establishments are prohibited from providing single-use plastic bags, regardless of whether they would be free or offered at a cost to the consumer.

While a previous version of Ordinance No. 9996 included a provision noting that plastic bags could still be provided by establishments if they charge $0.15 for them, that provision was not included in the adopted version of the ordinance.

Will consumers be punished if an establishment provides single-use plastic bags?

No, consumers will not be subject to fines if they are given a single-use plastic bag by an establishment. The ordinance is drafted to hold the establishments providing the goods responsible for upholding the prohibition of single-use plastic bags.

Establishments may choose to provide consumers with single-use disposable paper bags that contain at least 40% post-consumer recycled content or reusable bags. Establishments may provide these bags for free, at a cost, or with a deposit. If establishments do not provide alternatives to single-use plastic bags, consumers will be expected to bring their own reusable bags and/or transport purchased goods without a bag.

Can I use plastic bags to pick up my pet’s waste?

Yes. Consumers can continue to use single-use plastic bags in their possession. Consumers will still be able to purchase packages of plastic bags that can be used to pick up pet waste.

What about establishments that use single-use plastic bags for grocery deliveries or curbside pick-up?

Establishments will not be able to use single-use plastic bags for grocery delivery or curbside pick-up. It is up to each establishment to determine what they will use from the approved options.

How will the City enforce the plastic bag mandate?

The ordinance will be enforced by City of Lawrence staff. Any violation of the ordinance by an establishment will result in a municipal offense for the person who owns, manages, operates, or otherwise controls the establishment. If the person who owns, manages, operates, or otherwise controls an establishment continues to violate Ordinance No. 9996 after an initial warning, and if the person is found guilty or enters a plea of no contest, they will be subject to the following punishment:

  • A maximum fine of $100.00 upon first conviction
  • A maximum fine of $200.00 upon the second conviction, if it occurs within one calendar year of the first conviction
  • A maximum fine of $500 upon the third or any subsequent conviction, if it occurs within one calendar year of the first conviction
What do I do with single-use plastic bags that I already have in my possession?


You are welcome to continue using single-use plastic bags already in your possession. If you no longer want a single-use plastic bag and can recycle it, please do so. Single-use plastic bags are not accepted in City recycling carts, but many local grocery stores have plastic bag recycling collections. You can see a full list on the City’s online recyclable materials directory: https://www.lawrenceks.org/swm/recyclable-materials-directory.


As of March 1, 2024, establishments will no longer be permitted to distribute single-use plastic bags and non-compliant paper bags. Chain stores with outlets outside of Lawrence can ship any remaining bag inventory to other outlets. Retailers may also consider recycling their remaining plastic bags or donating them to nonprofits who may have use of them.

Are there any resources available to local businesses to help with the change?

The City is preparing some informational materials that will be available to businesses on this website as we get closer to March 1, 2024. If you are a business that is interested in receiving additional materials, please email City Communications, with your name, business name, and contact information: citycommunications@lawrenceks.org.

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