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Posted on: August 16, 2021

Washington's single-use plastic bag ban

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Washington's single-use plastic bag ban

Why ban single use plastic bags: 

  • Every year Washingtonians use 2 billion single-use plastic bags
  • Plastic bags are a big problem in the recycling system
  • Plastic bags contain chemicals that are toxic once released into the environment
  • Plastic bags cost retailers money
  • Plastic pollution poses both physical and chemical threats to the marine environment
  • Reusable bags or recyclable paper bags are a better alternative

When the law becomes effective on October 1, it will:

  • Prohibit single-use plastic carryout bags in all retail and grocery stores, restaurants, takeout establishments, festivals, and markets.
  • Require an 8-cent charge for all recycled content paper carryout bags and reusable carryout bags made of film plastic.
  • The fee may not be collected from anyone using a voucher or electronic benefits card issued under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or Food Assistance Program (FAP).
  • Require a minimum of 40% post-consumer recycled content and meet composting requirements in all retail-provided paper bags.
  • Require that a reusable bag made of plastic film contain 20% post-consumer recycled content and be at least 2.25 mil thick.
  • Require compliant paper and reusable plastic film bags to be labeled with the above specifications
  • Create consistent policy and fees across the state. The City repealed its own bag ban (passed in 2019) so as to align with the state law.
  • This ban does not apply to food banks and food assistance programs; however, those programs are encouraged to take actions to reduce the use of single-use plastic carryout bags.

You can find information on Washington's single-use plastic bag ban including FAQs on the Department of Ecology’s website. Due to supply chain issues of compliant bags during the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Jay Inslee delayed implementation of the bag ban. The single-use plastic bag ban will now be effective on Oct. 1, 2021. 

Please see the following flyers for retail businesses and restaurants: 

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