Washington state lawmakers pass ban on plastic grocery bags

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Washington state lawmakers passed a ban on plastic grocery bags and added an 8-cent fee on paper bags.

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee has not yet signed the bill passed by the state Senate Monday, The Seattle Times reported.

Some conservative lawmakers supported the Democrat-sponsored legislation in the hopes it will create paper bag demand and energize Washington’s pulp and paper industry.

The legislation received support from “the pulp and paper industry, the environmental community, the large and small grocers, the labor industry,” said Democratic Sen. Mona Das, the bill's sponsor.

The ban targets grocery plastic bags while exempting similar items including garbage bags.

The law would allow thicker plastic bags designed for reuse, which would be subject to an 8-cent fee that would increase to 12 cents in 2026.

The statewide fee of 8 cents for paper bags would supplant jurisdictions with existing 5-cent fees, including Seattle.

People who rely on food assistance programs would not pay the fees.

Lawmakers hope the fee will dissuade customers from purchasing bags, while using the revenue as “cost recovery” for retailers who give up cheaper plastic bags.

The bill's passage would align Washington with the 13 other states with plastic bag bans, including Oregon and California.