LOCAL NEWS

Why you may still see some plastic bags after statewide ban

Oct 19, 2021, 7:30 PM | Updated: Oct 20, 2021, 10:16 am
plastic bags...
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

The statewide ban on single-use plastic bags went into effect Oct. 1, but you may still see some plastic bags when you are out shopping — especially at smaller businesses.

The new law states that stores, restaurants, festivals, and markets must give customers either paper bags or reusable thick plastic bags. Customers must be charged 8 cents per bag as a way to encourage the use of reusable bags instead.

Mark Johnson, senior vice president of Policy and Government Affairs at the Washington Retail Association, said this big switch can present challenges for small businesses.

After 15 months of delays, Washington’s plastic bag ban takes effect

For one, he said, the new paper or thick plastic bags will generally be more expensive, and small businesses especially may not recoup the costs, even with the 8-cent charge. The bags must be at least 40% post-consumer recycled materials — meaning at least 40% of the bag is made up from previously used and recycled materials — which Johnson said tends to be more costly than other forms of paper or plastic. This especially hits mom-and-pops hard.

“A smaller retail establishment will normally pay more for their paper bags than a larger retailer by far, just from the sheer volume and the purchasing power,” he said.

Then there is the time that small stores and restaurants will take to get rid of their current plastic bag supply.

“For smaller retailers, it’s going to take them using up any existing supply of stock that they had purchased prior to October 1, maybe a little bit longer than maybe a larger retailer that has a high volume of sales,” Johnson said.

Luckily, for those business owners, the Department of Ecology is giving a bit of a grace period over the next few months to businesses that still have a back stock of plastic bags to use up. The department said in a statement that “the intent [of the law] is not for these bags to go to waste.”

“If they are using bags after the cutoff date, anytime now, if they can provide documentation that they purchased the bags pre-October 1, then [the state] is going to exercise a lot of leniency,” Johnson explained.

However, if it’s clear that a business is flouting the bag ban — for instance, if a store bought a large supply of plastic bags after the ban went into effect — it could face a $250 fine.

Ecology also noted that it “would not expect businesses to be using up existing inventories of bags for more than a few months.”

The Department of Ecology has a tip line on its website for people to report businesses that are breaking the rules. The department said that first step when investigating a business is to teach the owner about the new law, and that fines are a last resort. Still, business owners continuing to use plastic bags should plan to keep receipts in case they need to prove that the bags were bought before the date of the new law.

Local News

Washington vaccine mask mandates, wa verify...
Stephanie Klein

Vaccine verification to expand to small restaurants, bars in King County

Proof of vaccination will be required at small restaurants and bars in King County on Monday.
23 hours ago
snow...
MyNorthwest Staff

Lowland snow possible as new system moves in over Puget Sound

Forecasters say another system rolling in Sunday night will bring temperatures that are on the borderline for snowy conditions.
2 days ago
Omicron...
Stephanie Klein

3 cases of Omicron found in Washington state

The Department of Health has confirmed there are three cases of Omicron in Washington state. 
2 days ago
Marysville...
Stephanie Klein

I-5 in Marysville reopens after police activity

Traffic was backed up for miles on northbound I-5 through Marysville for police activity Saturday morning.
2 days ago
Kshama Sawant recall, threatening emails...
Hanna Scott

Elections office fielding complaints from both sides over Sawant recall ballot

Voters in District 3 decide one of the biggest political decisions Seattle has faced in recent history when they choose whether to recall City Councilmember Kshama Sawant on Tuesday.
2 days ago
redistricting maps...
Nick Bowman

‘Chaotic, disorganized’ redistricting process faces criticism in wake of state court ruling

The state Supreme Court opted to allow late-arriving redistricting maps to move forward on Friday, concluding a process still mired in controversy.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]
...

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
...

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
...
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Why you may still see some plastic bags after statewide ban