Washington Single-Use Plastic Bag Ban

The October 1st effective date for Washington’s single-use plastic bag ban is fast approaching. Here you will find information from the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) regarding the ban. Click on an item below to learn more.

Can businesses use up existing inventories of plastic bags without penalty?

The deadline for using up inventory technically passed in June and was not extended by the Governor in concurrence with the delayed October 1 implementation date. However, the intent is not for these bags to go to waste. Though we will begin accepting and following up on complaints of non-compliance beginning October 1, a business in question will have opportunity to explain that they are using up their inventory. The business may be required to provide invoices and receipts to show that the bags were purchased before the October 1 effective date, and Ecology would then exercise enforcement discretion on a case by case basis. However, we would not expect businesses to be using up existing inventories of bags for more than a few months.

A business collects used bags from customers and supply them for reuse. Is this still allowed under the new law?

Technically no – you cannot provide the single-use plastic bags or bags not meeting the new requirements even if they are previously used and deposited.

Can businesses charge more than 8 cents per bag?

Since any charge in excess of 8 cents is not part of the statutorily defined pass-through charge, it cannot be deducted from that taxpayer’s income for the purposes of calculating B&O tax. RCW 70A.530.020(2)(c) requires that retail establishments show all pass-through charges on a receipt, as well.  As an example, if a retailer opted to charge a total of 16 cents per bag, there should be two separately stated charges: an eight-cent pass-through charge per Ch. 70A.530 RCW, and a separate eight-cent charge that’s being charged at the retailers discretion.

Can businesses supply a smaller paper bag at no cost?

Bags smaller than the large barrel paper bags (882 cubic inches or larger) do not require an 8 cent charge. However, they must still meet the 40% post-consumer recycled content minimum, 40% wheat straw, or a combination of the two that totals at least 40%. They must be labeled on the exterior of the bag with this percentage.

What kind of outreach resources are available for informing staff and the public of the new requirements?

The Ecology Bag Ban Website contains a link to download our Bag Ban Outreach Toolkit. This toolkit contains detailed flyers to educate businesses and their staff on all the details of the new law, point of sale signs for communicating the requirements to customers, and Bring Your Own Bag (BYOB) signage to encourage customers to bring their own reusable bags. The toolkit is available in 17 different languages and is formatted for accessibility. It can be downloaded in PDF or InDesign file formats to allow for branding and customization. Businesses are encouraged to utilize and print these materials as much as they are able

Will any of the new requirements change or increase over time?

Yes, beginning July 1, 2022, the post-consumer recycled content percentage for reusable plastic carryout bags increases from 20% to 40%.

Beginning January 1, 2026, the thickness requirements for the reusable plastic film bags increases from 2.25 mil to 4 mil and the required charge for these bags increases from 8 cents to 12 cents (paper bags continue to be available for 8 cents).

Are food benefits customers (SNAP, WIC, TANF, etc) exempt from the charge?

Yes. Food benefits customers are exempt from the charge regardless of the method of payment used. They need only show proof of their food benefits status (showing the card itself or another formal document) and can receive this exemption at all types of businesses (restaurants, retail, etc).

Natur-Bag can help.

Natur-Bag® compostable shoppers bags are certified compostable by the BPI and compliant to ASTM D6400, ensuring compliance to Washington’s single-use plastic bag ban. Click here to learn more.

Natur-Bag Compostable Shopper Highlights

  • Certified compostable by the BPI (Biodegradable Products Institute) and TÜV Austria
  • Meets ASTM D6400 and EN 13432 standard specifications for compostable plastics
  • Does not contain any polyethylene or other non-degradable plastics
  • Does not contain BPA or PFAS (polyfluoroalkyl substances)
  • Compliant with CA, MN, WA, and MD state law regarding biodegradable and compostable plastics
  • Shopper bags are engineered strong to safely carry heavy loads without breaks or tears

Expert Insight.

Our team is knowledgeable about WA policy and zero-waste success. From organics diversion to compostable packaging we can help your sustainability efforts succeed.

Contact Us to learn more. Or check out these Natur-Bag resources: