Single-use plastic bags ban starts October 1

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Sales of single-use plastic bags will be banned in Washington state beginning on October 1 after governor Jay Inslee rescinded the proclamation delaying the original January 1, 2021 start date.

The ban prohibits the sale of single-use plastic bags for grocery stores, restaurants, small vendors and retail businesses, according to a department of ecology (DOE) press release. Instead of using these bags, businesses can either sell customers bags that are compliant with the ban or customers can bring reusable bags.

Stores can sell paper bags or more durable plastic bags for eight cents. The eight-cent charge, mandated by law, is not a tax, but is kept by the merchant both to encourage customers to bring their own bags and to account for the increased cost of compliant bags.

While the ban goes into effect on October 1, businesses can implement changes sooner, said Dave Bennett, DOE solid waste management program spokesperson.

“Nothing is preventing a business from charging a fee and using compliant bags right now,” Bennett said. “We encourage those businesses to do that and start making those changes now.”

The bag ban is intended to cut down on pollution caused by plastic bags, which are difficult to recycle and can clog recycling sorting machines, according to the DOE.

In addition to the ban, Inslee signed a new state law regarding plastics use and recycling that went into effect July 25, according to Senate Bill 5022. The law’s immediate provisions include changes to the recycling logos on plastic containers and the formation of a stakeholder committee to make recommendations for recycled content not covered in the new law.

For more information on the ban, visit ecology.wa.gov/bag-ban.

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