Statewide plastic bag ban now in effect

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A statewide ban on single-use plastic bags that was originally scheduled to begin on the first of this year is now in effect starting Friday.

The ban applies to single-use plastic carry-out bags by restaurants, retail stories, small vendors, and grocery stores.

The ban was postponed by Gov. Jay Inslee because there weren’t enough compliant paper or plastic bags available when the ban was supposed to go into effect.

The Washington State Department of Ecology said plastic bags cause pollution other than the obvious litter.

The department said harmful chemicals are released when plastics are made, used, burned, or slowly disintegrate. The bags are not easily recycled and clog sorting machines, which puts workers at risk.

“Single-use plastic bags are not easily recyclable, which makes managing them at the end of their lives almost impossible,” said Laurie Davies, manager of Ecology’s Solid Waste Management Program. “Reducing their use will protect our rivers and streams and help our recycling system run more efficiently.”

Officials suggest people use reusable bags for groceries or carry out food. By law, merchants who provide customers with compliant plastic or paper bags must charge $0.08 cents a bag.

Food banks and pantries, and people receiving food stamps, WIC, SNAP, or other government assistance will not be charged the bag fee.

Some single-use plastic bags are allowed, including plastics to wrap meats and produce, prescription bags, and newspaper or dry-cleaning bags.

Visit ecology.wa.gov/bag-ban for more information and a complete list of requirements under the statewide ban.