Starting October 1, 2021, a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags will go into effect in Washington. Here’s what you need to know.

Washington residents use two billion single-use plastic bags each year, according to the Department of Ecology. These single-use plastic bags are a major contaminant in rivers, streams, roads and essentially all of Washington, according to the department.

Single-use bags contain toxic chemicals that are released into the environment if not properly disposed of. Because of their thin construction, single-use bags are difficult to recycle, which means many end up in landfills or worse.

In order to combat the negative effects of this pollution on the environment, the legislator has decided to ban single-use plastic bags in 2020. COVID-19 has disrupted the supply chain of alternative bags, so that the Governor Jay Inslee delayed implementation of the ban until October. 1st 2021.

Thus, from October 1, restaurants, grocery stores and other retailers will no longer be allowed to use single-use bags, according to the Ministry of Ecology. Instead, businesses will be required to charge an 8-cent fee for reusable plastic bags and recycled paper bags. Another option for businesses is to use brown or green “compostable” plastic bags for an optional fee.

Reusable plastic bags should be at least 2.25 millimeters or approximately ninety thousandths of an inch thick and should be made of at least 20% recycled material. Paper bags must be made of at least 40% recycled material.

The 8 cent charge will not be applied to customers who use food stamps such as SNAP and WIC. The ban does not apply to single-use plastic bags used for products, cooked or prepared foods, flowers, plants or meat, according to the Department of Ecology.

Buyers can also bring their own reusable grocery bags instead of using a reusable paper or plastic bag.

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