Bag ban begins in Washington

By on Friday, October 1st, 2021 in Columbia Basin News Featured Stories

OLYMPIA – Washington’s statewide ban on single-use plastic bags goes into effect today. The law prohibits food service businesses, restaurants, retail, small and temporary vendors, and grocery stores from providing sing-use plastic carryout bags to customers.

Customers are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags but may purchase compliant paper or reusable bags from a merchant. The law requires merchants to charge at least eight cents per bag to help them recover the costs of the compliant bags and as an incentive for customers to bring their own bags.

The eight-cent charge is not a tax, but a sale kept entirely by the merchant.

Food banks and pantries are not required to charge customers for compliant bags. Individuals receiving government food assistance programs are also not subject to the eight-cent charge.

Investing in reusable bags to carry out groceries and food from restaurants helps reduce waste, but it is important to keep reusable bags clean and in good condition.

Some types of single-use plastic bags are exempt from the law, including firm plastics used to wrap meats and produce, small film bags for prescriptions, newspaper and dry-cleaning bags, and packaged bags sold in stores like trash bags, pet waste bags, and sandwich bags. Customers who receive these bags should dispose of them properly in the garbage or at recycling collection drop off locations. To find a location that handles this kind of material, visit

Anyone may submit an observation by using the Washington State Department of Ecology’s online reporting form at Information provided by the public will be used to contact businesses, determine their level of non-compliance, and ensure understanding of the new law. Initial outreach will focus on education. Repeated non-compliance may result in penalties, according to the Washington State Department of Ecology.