Statewide ban on single-use plastic bags begins Oct. 1

Washington’s ban on single-use plastic bags begins Oct. 1, 2021, after a delay due to the COVID-19 emergency. (Photo courtesy Washington State Department of. Ecology)

Washingtonians will begin to see fewer plastic bags littering the state’s roadsides, parks, and streams beginning Oct. 1 when the statewide plastic bag ban goes into effect. According to the Washington State Department of Ecology, the bag ban prohibits the distribution of single-use plastic carry-out bags by restaurants, retail, small vendor, and grocery stores.

The ban won’t be anything new for the City of Edmonds, which has banned the use of plastic carry-out bags since 2010.

The ban was originally scheduled to begin Jan. 1, 2021, but the limited availability of compliant bags prompted Gov. Jay Inslee to delay it through a proclamation, which has been rescinded.

“Single-use plastic bags are not easily recyclable, which makes managing them at the end of their lives almost impossible,” said Laurie Davies, manager of Ecology’s Solid Waste Management Program. “Reducing their use will protect our rivers and streams, and help our recycling system run more efficiently.”

The Ecology Department recommends people invest in reusable bags for groceries or to carry out food from restaurants. Like any reusable item, reusable bags should be washed and properly stored after each use.

If customers choose to use compliant plastic or paper bags offered by a merchant, the law requires the business charge 8 cents per bag. That 8-cent-charge is not a tax; it is a sale kept entirely by the merchant to provide an incentive for customers to bring their own bags and to recoup the costs for the more durable compliant bags.

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.

The Washington Legislature has been focused on reducing the use of single-use plastics in the state for several years. In 2021, a new law aimed at doing just that was passed. Ecology is implementing the new law. It will increase recycled content in bottles and trash bags, and drive development of new markets for Washington’s recyclable plastic.


  1. Wow! This was a really important step in saving the planet. Now how about the state, county and cities do something about all of the used drug needles, human waste, tents, broken down campers, zombies, drug addled criminals, the walking dead, the crazies and regular human debris polluting our towns and waterways?

  2. Got some suggestions how to do all that? I agree 100% – but how? And how do we get government to deal with it – that seems to me to be the big question.

    1. Well there is , or used to be a standard operating procedure for society called “Personal responsibility” along with something called “accountability”. Over the past 3 or 4 decades, and especially in metropolitan areas, this concept has been abandoned on the alter of “feelings”. The feeling that since life is tough, losers simply do not have to work at it and will be taken care of by those who do work at it, whether it is a good idea or not. I would say “feelings” and those who ascribe to it as a “prime directive” are responsible for that part of humanity that are socially defective to just do “whatever” at the expense of the rest of us. Realistically, most people will get their “Sierra Tango” if it means doing so or starving and for those that don’t is where accountability comes in by being involuntarily warehoused or the like. Until we start dealing out some really tough options things will continue to get worse.

  3. Non-reusable produce bags are a big concern as well. Amazon has various sizes of reusable mesh-type bags that work well. Stopped me from wasting a lot of produce bags.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real first and last names — as well as city of residence — are required for all commenters.
This is so we can verify your identity before approving your comment.

By commenting here you agree to abide by our Code of Conduct. Please read our code at the bottom of this page before commenting.