Single-use plastic bag ban for Washington state now in effect

The statewide ban on plastic bags went into effect Friday. 

The bag ban prohibits the distribution of single-use plastic carry-out bags by restaurants, retail, small vendor, and grocery stores.

An 8-cent charge for other bags will be implemented. The bag charge helps stores cover the cost of paper or reusable bags and create an incentive for shoppers to bring their own bags.

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.

The fee would increase to 12 cents in 2026.

The legislation also requires paper bags to be made from 40% recycled material.

Under the legislation, carryout bags do not include those used by consumers inside stores to package bulk items; contain or wrap items where dampness or sanitation may be a problem; and newspaper bags, mailing pouches or sealed envelopes, among others.

Gov. Jay Inslee signed the plastic bag ban into law in March of 2020. It was supposed to be implemented on Jan. 1, 2021, but was delayed due to a supply issue during the start of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The city of Seattle has already had a plastic bag ban in effect for some time. 

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