Single-use plastic bag ban to begin Oct. 1 in Washington

(Undated file photo from Getty Images) 

Washington's statewide plastic bag ban will go into effect on Oct. 1. The ban prohibits the distribution of single-use plastic carry-out bags by restaurants, retail, grocery stores and small vendors.

The ban was scheduled to begin In January of 2021, but due to the shortage of compliant bags, Gov. Jay Inslee delayed the ban through a proclamation which has now been rescinded.

Customers who choose to use a compliant plastic or paper bag offered by a merchant will be charged 8 cents. The 8-cent charge is required by law and intended to provide an incentive for customers to bring their own reusable bags. Food banks, pantries and individuals receiving food stamps, WIC, SNAP or other government assistance are exempt from 8-cent charge.

The Department of Ecology advises that people invest in reusable bags to carry out groceries or food from restaurants. 

Laurie Davies, manager of Ecology’s Solid Waste Management Program, explains how reducing the use of single-use plastic bags will not only protect Washington streams and rivers but will also help the recycling system run efficiently.

"Single-use plastic bags are not easily recyclable, which makes managing them at the end of their lives almost impossible." 

The state legislature has been working towards reducing the use of this type of plastic bag in Washington for years. The ecology department is implementing new laws in 2021 by increasing recycled content in bottles and bags.

For businesses owners and merchants, Washington ecology has developed an outreach toolkit that includes materials customizable for restaurants and retailers. Flyers, Bring-Your-Own-Bag signage and web graphics are available for download to be branded, printed and shared by local businesses. 

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