By Leona Vaughn | WNPA News Service
- SB 5323 banning retailers from giving out single-use plastic bags for free passed in legislation
If signed by Governor Jay Inslee, consumers will need to bring their own reusable shopping bags to avoid being charged a fee starting January 1, 2021.
Senate Bill 5323 will ban retailers and grocers from handing out single-use plastic bags for free. Shoppers will, instead, be offered a reusable carry-out bag at check out for an eight-cent fee.
“We have been working to deal with the plastic blob in the Pacific Ocean for a decade now,” said Rep. Gael
Tarleton, D-Seattle, chair of the House Finance Committee. “There is no perfect tax policy to figure out how to induce change behavior to stop using plastic bags. … I really hope that we can convene a solution to how we combine tax policy with the environmental policies to achieve the objective of banning plastic bags.”
After passing in the House, the bill was heard a final time in the Senate on Monday, March 9, and now heads to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.
Below is a press release from Representative Strom Peterson, Lynnwood-D sharing his delight for the bill’s passage
I have been working on reducing single-use plastic for 11 years. In spite of those efforts, we have seen plastic pollution get worse during that same time frame. For the last few years, I have been fighting to pass legislation to eliminate single-use plastic bags throughout Washington. This year, we finally made it happen. On Monday, the legislature passed reusable bag legislation that will drastically cut down on our plastic pollution in Washington.
Senate Bill 5323 reduces pollution by prohibiting single-use plastic bags in retail stores throughout the state. It allows retailers — including grocers — to provide paper or reusable, plastic film for 8 cents each. The 8-cent charge helps retailers recover the costs of the paper or durable plastic bags and incentivizes shoppers to bring reusable bags. In 2026, plastic film bags would increase in thickness from 2.25 to 4 mil and the charge increases to 12 cents (paper will remain at 8). I sponsored the House companion to this bill.
Shoppers with their own reusable bags won’t be charged. People using the State Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program; or the state Food Assistance Program (FAP) are also not subject to the charge.
One-third of Washington’s jurisdictions have enacted plastic bag ban measures. This created logistical and legal problems for businesses with stores in multiple jurisdictions. That is why this bill was supported by a coalition of stakeholders that includes retailers, the pulp and paper industry, and environmentalists. Because of this, it received bipartisan support in both chambers.
I believe the actions we take today affect the Washington we will leave for future generations. Reducing plastic bag pollution means healthier waterways, more robust fish populations, and cleaner forests. This bill is headed to the governor’s desk, I am proud to have been part of this solution and look forward to seeing cleaner seas, forests, and rivers in the near future.