OLYMPIA — A bill to reduce pollution by prohibiting retailers in Washington state from handing out single-use plastic bags goes into effect today after a year-long delay brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

Sen. Mona Das (D-Kent) sponsored Senate Bill 5323, which was supported by a broad coalition of stakeholders, including retailers and environmentalists.

“Our state’s commitment to the environment was never put on pause, even while it was necessary to delay the implementation of the single-use plastic bag ban,” Das said. “I’m so proud of all our communities across the state for staying hopeful and dedicated to the health of our planet and future, no matter what.”

This bill will allow retailers — including grocers —to provide paper bags or durable, reusable bags for 8 cents each. The reusable bags must meet standards for strength, durability and recycled content. The 8-cent charge will help retailers recover the costs of the paper or durable plastic bags and create an incentive for shoppers to bring their own bags. Shoppers who bring their own reusable bags will not be charged.

People using the State Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program; or the state Food Assistance Program (FAP) will not be subject to the 8-cent fee.

Today Washington joins thirty-eight jurisdictions around the state — comprising about one-third of Washington’s jurisdictions, and hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians — and eight other states that have implemented plastic bag ban measures. SB 5323 is modeled after those local laws and applies one uniform set of regulations to the state.

“Protecting our environment is one of the most important jobs we have as state legislators,” Das said, “and I’m honored to represent a community that leads that work, and to do this in partnership with a broad, passionate coalition. We only get one planet. We need to care for it.”


For information: Hannah Sabio-Howell, Senate Democratic Communications, 360-786-7326