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Bag Ban Forum Event Summary

Allowable Bags

Clark County Green Business hosted an informational Bag Ban Forum for Businesses on Dec. 8, 2020. Shannon Jones, the Materials Management Coordinator from the Washington Department of Ecology, presented an enlightening PowerPoint slideshow reviewing the ins and outs of the bag ban law. The first phase of this five-year transition requires all retail and food establishments charge an 8-cent fee on all paper and plastic bags, prohibits thin single-use plastic bags, mandates 40% post-consumer recycled content in paper bags, and requires 20% post-consumer content in plastic bags at least 2.25 mil thicker than standard plastic bags. This fee will increase to 12 cents in the years to come.

The ban was intended to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic and supply chain difficulties, the bag ban has been delayed until late January 2021, with potential to be delayed further until the summer of 2021.

Many Washington cities already have local bag bans, meaning, this law would create statewide consistency. The law was inspired by the public, lobbyist groups, and state waste reduction goals. It aims to benefit businesses by providing consistency in statewide policy, lowering safety issues at recycling centers, and allowing businesses to regain the cost of providing bags. 

 Key Takeaways
  • Bulk section bags, produce and deli bags, and dry-cleaning bags are exempt from the law.
  • Customers who are using vouchers or benefit cards are exempt, along with food banks and businesses on tribal lands.
  • Compostable bags are not recommended because they are not compostable in Clark County.
  • You can reach out to Department of Ecology with a complaint if you see a business not in compliance. Clark County Green Business is here to work with businesses to help them reach compliance and prevent repeat offenses and monetary fines that could be issued by the state.
  • The CDC has released data showing that reusable bags have very low transmission rates of COVID-19. Businesses are still encouraged to use self-bagging and emphasize washing of hands and reusable bags.
  • Some businesses are struggling with supply chain issues. Domestic manufacturers are not quite ready to meet the demands of this new law and businesses may have to initially source bags from overseas. 

Clark County Green Business is available to assist businesses with outreach, signage, and employee education. You are welcome to email with any questions. You can find commonly asked questions from the forum on the Clark County's Bag Ban FAQ page. 

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