WA lawmaker calls on Inslee to overturn plastic bag ban over COVID-19 concerns

Mar 26, 2020, 7:44 AM
plastic bag ban...
A plastic bag ban will soon take effect in Washington. (MyNorthwest photo)
(MyNorthwest photo)

A Washington state Republican lawmaker is calling on Gov. Jay Inslee to overturn a soon-to-be-implemented plastic bag ban, over concerns that coronavirus could be transmitted on reusable bags brought to grocery stores by shoppers.

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“A crisis like this tends to refocus [and] recalibrate how elected officials look at certain situations,” State Sen. Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale) told KTTH’s Jason Rantz Show.

The plastic bag industry has petitioned a handful of states to overturn bans as the nation’s COVID-19 outbreak has ramped up, citing the danger of transmitting the virus from reusable bags.

In Washington, Gov. Inslee is set to sign a statewide plastic bag ban first introduced in 2019, and then passed in the 2020 legislative session. Sen. Ericksen hopes current circumstances, though, may change the governor’s mind.

“Now what we’re finding out plastic bags are one of the things that you want to use to help slow or stop the spread of the coronavirus,” he noted.

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One study sponsored by the American Chemistry Council — which represents a handful of high-profile plastic manufacturers — claims that reusable bags can carry bacteria, and that the people who use them don’t wash them often.

“Reuse of bags creates an opportunity for cross contamination of foods,” the study, released in August of 2011, concludes.

As for whether Washington’s ban could actually be overturned, Ericksen points to a series of strong measures Gov. Inslee has taken to curb the spread of coronavirus in Washington as a possible cue that he would be willing to rethink the state’s current position.

“He’s taking very strong positions on trying to fight this virus,” Sen. Ericksen noted. “He’s taking a very strong stance, and I think this is something that he should do to help us in the future.”

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WA lawmaker calls on Inslee to overturn plastic bag ban over COVID-19 concerns