Skip to main content

Restaurants' Exemption for the Carryout Bag Law

Montgomery County's Carryout Bag Law (Section 52-102 of the County Code) exempts certain carryout bags used at restaurants as defined in this law. A restaurant under this law means "any lunchroom, cafe or other establishment located in a permanent building for the accommodation of the public, equipped with a kitchen containing facilities and utensils for preparing and serving meals to the public, and outfitted with a public dining area."

Restaurants are not required to collect the tax from customers for paper bags used to carry out prepared or leftover food or drink. This includes paper bags used to carry out unfinished bottles of wine. Restaurants must charge customers if they are using plastic bags as carryout bags. The Carryout Bag Law does not require restaurants to provide paper bags to customers.

Establishments which sell prepared food items but which do not have a public dining area do not qualify as a restaurant. Therefore they may not use the restaurant exemption as defined in the Carryout Bag Law. This includes establishments such as convenience stores, gas stations, delis with a walk-up counter only. These establishments must charge customers for both paper and plastic carryout bags for all items including prepared food.

For further information, please click on the link below. Online Customers who wish to speak directly with an Department Environmental Protection staff member regarding the restaurant exemption in the Carryout Bag Law may create a Service Request by clicking on the tab at the lower portion of the page.

For inquiries requiring the response of a DEP investigator, requestors will typically be contacted within 3 days although resolution of the issue may take longer depending on the circumstances of the case.

Find more information from the following link(s):