Washington's Plastic Bag Ban

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COVID-19

Our top priority is keeping Washingtonian’s healthy during this pandemic. We are working closely with state and federal agencies to follow the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

Plastic bags are a major contaminant in Washington’s recycling facilities, waterways, roadways, and environment. Washington's Plastic Bag Ban will reduce pollution by prohibiting single-use plastic carryout bags and charging a fee for acceptable bags in business establishments beginning in January 2021.

icon of a plastic ban inside a red circle with a slash

Responding to growing plastic bag pollution, the Washington State Legislature in 2020 passed a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags.

This new law bans single-use plastic bags to reduce marine plastic pollution, litter, and waste. The law will:

  • Reduce contamination in commingled recycling and compost systems.
  • Promote reuse and recycled content.
  • Build consistency in policy and enforcement across the state.
  • Support the recycled paper manufacturing industry.

We are currently collaborating on outreach materials with local governments, retailers, associations, and NGOs. We will offer technical assistance, customizable education, and outreach material to businesses working to educate customers and comply with the ban.

You'll also be able to submit a report, starting in 2021, if you observe a business still using prohibited bags. We will use this information to help businesses follow the state's plastic bag ban.

  • Every year Washingtonians use 2 billion single-use plastic bags
  • Plastic bags are a big problem in the recycling system
  • Plastic bags contain toxic chemicals
  • Plastic bags cost retailers money
  • Plastic pollution poses both physical and chemical threats to the marine environment
  • Reusable bags or recyclable paper bags are a better alternative

Effective Jan. 1, 2021, Washington state will:

  • Prohibit single-use plastic carryout bags in all retail and grocery stores, restaurants, takeout establishments, festivals, and markets.
  • Require an 8-cent charge for all recycled content paper carryout bags and reusable carryout bags made of film plastic.
  • The fee may not be collected from anyone using a voucher or electronic benefits card issued under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Temporary Assitance for Needy Families (TANF), or Food Assistance Program (FAP).
  • Require a minimum of 40 percent post-consumer recycled content and meet composting requirements in all retail-provided paper bags.
  • Require that a reusable bag made of plastic film contain 20 percent post-consumer recycled content and be at least 2.25 mil thick.
  • Require compliant paper and reusable plastic film bags to be labeled with the above specifications
  • Create consistent policy and fees across the state.
  • This ban does not apply to food banks and food assistance programs, however, those programs are encouraged to take actions to reduce the use of single-use plastic carryout bags.

 

Frequently asked questions