A new statewide plastic bag ban goes into effect on Friday, October 1, 2021. The bag ban prohibits the distribution of single-use plastic carry-out bags by restaurants, retail, small vendor and grocery stores.
Additionally, per state law, if customers choose to use compliant plastic or paper bags offered by a merchant, the business must charge 8 cents per bag. Although the City of North Bend had already enacted a single-use plastic bag ban that did not require businesses to charge a paper bag fee, the new state law supersedes the City ordinance.
As such, residents should expect this new charge when shopping locally – for both paper and compliant plastic bags – and recognize the new charge is state, not City, imposed. The 8-cent-charge per bag is not a tax; it is a sale kept entirely by the merchant to incentivize customers to bring their own bags and to recoup the costs for the more durable compliant bags.
The state plastic bag ban was originally scheduled to begin on January 1, 2021. Still, the limited availability of compliant bags caused by the Covid-19 pandemic prompted Gov. Inslee to delay it through a proclamation that was recently rescinded.
Food banks and pantries and individuals receiving food stamps, WIC, SNAP, or other government assistance are not subject to the 8-cent charge. Some single-use plastic bags are exempt from the law, including plastics to wrap meats and produce bags for prescriptions and newspaper or dry-cleaning bags.
Additional information about the State’s single-use plastic bag ban can be found at www.ecology.wa.gov/bagban.