Single-use plastic bag ban begins Oct. 1 in Washington

  • Staff report
  • Wednesday, July 21, 2021 10:51am
  • Northwest
Photo courtesy WSDOE.

Washingtonians will begin to see fewer plastic bags littering the state’s roadsides, parks, and streams beginning Oct. 1 when the statewide plastic bag ban goes into effect, prohibiting the distribution of single-use plastic carry-out bags by restaurants, retail, small vendors and grocery stores.

The ban had been originally scheduled to begin Jan. 1, 2021, but the limited availability of compliant bags prompted Gov. Jay Inslee to delay it through a proclamation. The proclamation was recently rescinded.

“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.”

Plastic bags are a common form of pollution that threatens human health, wildlife, and the environment. Harmful chemicals are released when plastics are produced, used, incinerated, or slowly disintegrate into microscopic particles. Plastic bags are also a major contaminant in Washington’s recycling system that clog sorting machines and put worker safety at risk.

Ecology recommends people invest in reusable bags for groceries or to carry out food from restaurants. Like any reusable item, reusable bags should be washed and properly stored after each use.

If customers choose to use compliant plastic or paper bags offered by a merchant, the law requires the business charge 8 cents per bag. That 8-cent-charge is not a tax; it is a sale kept entirely by the merchant to provide an incentive for customers to bring their own bags and to recoup the costs for the more durable compliant bags.

Food banks and pantries, and individuals receiving food stamps, WIC, SNAP, or other government assistance are not subject to the 8-cent charge. Some single-use plastic bags are exempt from the law, including plastics to wrap meats and produce, bags for prescriptions, and newspaper or dry-cleaning bags.

Accessible toolkits available in 17 languages

Ecology is focused on education and communication with business owners. Helping all Washingtonians understand important details of the new law will benefit stores and customers, and ease the statewide transition to reusable bags. That’s why Ecology and partners developed an outreach toolkit formatted for accessibility and available in 17 languages.

Toolkits include a variety of materials that are customizable for individual restaurants and retailers, including flyers, Bring-Your-Own-Bag and point-of-sale signage, and web graphics. They are available for download in PDF and InDesign formats so they can be branded, printed, and shared by businesses and local governments.

Visit ecology.wa.gov/bag-ban for more information, tools and resources, and a complete listing of requirements of Washington’s statewide ban on single-use plastic bags.

The Washington Legislature has been focused on reducing the use of single-use plastics in the state for several years. In 2021, a new law aimed at doing just that was passed. Ecology is implementing the new law. It will increase recycled content in bottles and trash bags, and drive development of new markets for Washington’s recyclable plastic.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@redmond-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.redmond-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Northwest

Fedor Osipov, 15, flips into Steel Lake in Federal Way during last year's heatwave on June 28, 2021. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
Heatwave expected to hit King County

Temperatures will likely reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday, June 26, and Monday, June 27.

Judged by XII: A King County Local Dive podcast. The hands shown here belong to Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson, who has been charged with homicide in the 2019 death of Jesse Sarey.
JUDGED BY XII: Examining Auburn police officer’s grim tattoos

Episode 5 in special podcast series that explores Jeffrey Nelson’s role in the death of Jesse Sarey.

t
Sound Transit Board approves Julie Timm as new CEO at $375,000 per year

She replaces Peter Rogoff who left in May after board voted to replace him

t
Statewide task force to tackle organized retail crime rings

Group brings law enforcement, prosecutors, retailers together to combat growing problem

Photo courtesy of King County.
Officials urge caution when swimming this summer

Cold spring temperatures and larger than normal snowpack have created dangerous conditions

A semiautomatic handgun with a safety cable lock that prevents loading ammunition. (Sound Publishing file photo)
Large-capacity ammo magazine sales ban starts soon in Washington

Starting July 1, a 10-round capacity becomes the limit for sales. Meanwhile, “there is a rush on magazine purchasing.”

t
Oak Harbor man arrested on $1 million bail for alleged hate crime

Yelled threat at Whidbey Island woman; reportedly posted online comments about killing gay people

At Dash Point on June 16, 2022. Henry Stewart-Wood/Sound Publishing
All that the tides reveal: Puget Sound’s hidden intertidal world

Exploring King County beaches during the lowest tide in the last 13 years.

Washington State Capitol Building. File photo
Foes of state’s capital gains tax drop plans for initiative

I-1929 sponsors say they are confident a lawsuit challenging the legality of the tax will be successful.

Most Read