With increasing concerns about environmental pollution, the state legislature issued a ban on single-use plastic. It also imposed corresponding fees for using other types of shopping bags effective last Fri., Oct. 1, 2021.
Each year, the Washington Department of Ecology (DES) estimates that around two billion single-use plastic bags are within the state. These bags often impose a problem in the recycling system and carry toxic chemicals which can be harmful to the environment.
As a result, the state legislature enacted Chapter 70A.530 RCW which prohibited business establishments from using single-use plastic bags, and allow retailers to impose corresponding fees for other types of bags in stores, restaurants, takeout establishments, festivals, and markets.
The ban was approved in 2020 but temporarily put on hold after Gov. Jay Inslee delayed its implementation for lack of supply and due to concerns about how COVID-19 is transmitted.
While single-use plastic bags are prohibited, the state allows other types of bags, although they carry corresponding fees.
Some of the allowable bags include:
Lots more loopholes
The law allows single-use plastic bags for a wide variety of applications, including:
Green or brown plastic produce bags are also prohibited, save for the use of green or brown compostable bags. The state also prohibits retailers from using misleading labels such as “biodegradable," "decomposable," "degradable."
Establishments that fail to comply with the prohibition may face a $250 charge.