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What Businesses Need to Know about the Upcoming Bag Ban

What you need to know

Scheduled to begin January 1, 2021, all establishments that sell goods to consumers will be required to charge an 8-cent fee for carry-out bags. Customers are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags. The fee will go directly to businesses to off-set the cost of purchasing carry-out bags required to be made from post-consumer recycled content. The fee will be waived for people receiving vouchers or electronic benefits under Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or Food Assistance Program (FAP). Food banks and food assistance programs are excused but are encouraged to reduce their use of single use bags. 

Why did Washington State enact a bag ban? 

Plastic has numerous environmental impacts. It is made from non-renewable resources and breaks into microplastics that runoff into waterways, damaging ecosystems. Conventional plastic bags are common contaminates at recycling facilities. They have been known to clog and damage machinery, which can be a costly repair for our recycling system. This ban will follow in the footsteps of states such as: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon, and Vermont, that have also enacted laws against single use bags. 

All establishments will charge an 8-cent fee on each paper and plastic carry-out bag provided. 

Individual establishments have the option to charge for compostable bags. There will be no charge on thin plastic bags from fresh produce, deli sections, bulk items, dry cleaning bags, or prescription medications. The fee must be displayed on all receipts, and it is taxable. Businesses will collect and keep the 8-cent fee. Any establishment found not charging the bag fee may be fined up to $250.

All carry-out bags being provided must match the new requirements listed below.

Plastic carry-out bags must contain 20 percent post-consumer recycled content, be at least 2.25 mil thick, and be labeled "Reusable." Plastic carry-out bags that do not meet this criteria are prohibited. All paper bags must contain 40 percent post-consumer recycled content. All bags provided with a fee at retail and food establishments must be labeled with their post-consumer recycled content. A one-year transition period will be allotted for businesses who buy in bulk. Businesses are encouraged to advertise their name on the reusable and carry-out bags their store provides. 

Links

To read the law directly from the Washington State Legislature, click here 

For signage for your business, click here 

Feel free to reach out to Clark County's Green Business Team at for any further assistance. 

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