BOTHELL – A nationwide ban on single-use plastic bags will come into effect in Washington on October 1, 2021. Here’s what you need to know.
According to the Department of Ecology, Washington people use two billion single-use plastic bags each year. These single-use plastic bags are a major pollutant of Washington’s rivers, streams, roads, and basically everything else, according to the department.
The disposable bags contain toxic chemicals which, if not disposed of properly, can be released into the environment. Because of their thin construction, single-use bags are difficult to recycle, meaning many end up in landfills or worse.
To combat the negative effects of this pollution, the legislature has decided to ban single-use plastic bags in 2020. COVID-19 disrupted the supply chain for alternative bags, causing Governor Jay Inslee to delay implementation of the ban until October. 1, 2021.
As of October 1, restaurants, grocery stores and other retailers will no longer be allowed to use disposable bags, according to the Environment Ministry. Instead, companies must charge an 8 cents fee for reusable plastic bags and recycled paper bags. Another option for businesses is to use brown or green âcompostableâ plastic bags for an optional fee.
The reusable plastic bags must be at least 2.25 millimeters or about ninety thousandths of an inch thick and made from at least 20% recycled materials. The paper bags must consist of at least 40% recycled material.
The 8 cents fee is waived for customers using grocery vouchers such as SNAP and WIC. The ban doesn’t apply to single-use plastic bags that are used on produce, baked or prepared food, flowers, plants, or meat, according to the Department of Ecology.
Buyers can also bring their own reusable grocery bags instead of using a paper or reusable plastic bag.
This story originally appeared in the Bothell-Kenmore Reporter, a sister publication of The Herald.