Say goodbye to those flimsy plastic bags.
Washington state’s new ban on single-use plastic bags went into effect on Friday, Oct. 1. The new law in most cases forbids food service businesses, restaurants, retail, small and temporary vendors, and grocery stores from providing the carryout bags to customers, according to a news release from the Washington state Department of Ecology.
Businesses may still provide customers a compliant paper or reusable bag at a cost of 8 cents. Those funds go directly back into the pockets of businesses to recoup the cost of providing more durable and reusable bagging options.
“Some types of single-use plastic bags are exempt from the law, including film 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,” the news release reads.
Community food banks and pantries are also not required to charge customers for compliant bags under the new law, Ecology says. People using food stamps, WIC (Women, Infants, Children), SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), or any other government-funded nutrition assistance programs are also not subject to the 8-cent charge.
Plastic bags are a source of pollution which threatens human health, wildlife and the environment, and they continue to be a major contaminant issue in Washington state’s recycling system. Ecology says reducing the use of single-use plastic bags will protect the state’s rivers and waterways, help the state’s recycling systems run more efficiently and contribute to a growing culture of waste reduction.
Customers are encouraged to keep their reusable bags clean and in good condition for use by merchants.
“The businesses this law affects are required to allow customers to use their own bags. … If a merchant doesn’t want its employees handling customers’ reusable bags, it can implement a policy requiring them to bag their own purchases when customers bring their own,” said Laurie Davis, Ecology’s solid waste management program manager, in a statement.