The environmental community applauds Governor Inslee for getting Washington’s new bag law back on track. The new law, championed by Senator Mona Das (D-Kent) and Representative Strom Peterson (D-Edmonds) will go in effect on October 1. As of that date, retailers in the state will no longer hand out single-use plastic bags. If customers do not bring their own reusable bags, retailers can provide paper bags or reusable thicker plastic bags for an 8-cent fee, which the retailer retains to cover the higher cost of those bags.
Washington was the 8th state to pass a bag law. It was initially slated to go into effect on January 1, 2021. Implementation of the law was delayed due to supply issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. “We must reduce the production and use of single-use plastic,” said Giovanni Severino, Lead Policy Organizer with Latino Community Fund of Washington. “This issue affects everyone. In my community, I know that recycling and reducing plastics is a big concern.”
“Bringing your own bag helps reduce plastic waste and stem the flow of plastic going into our waterways and ocean,” said Nora Nickum, Ocean Policy Manager at the Seattle Aquarium. “This law reminds us all to take that easy step.”
“Plastic products, including bags, directly harm marine animals that can mistake them for food or become entangled,” said Sara Holzknecht, Field Representative at Oceana. “Implementing this law will help protect sea turtles, seabirds, and other marine life, as well as our communities from the harmful impacts of plastic waste.”
“Plastic bags are among the most common items we find on beach cleanups,” said Gus Gates at Surfrider Foundation. “This law, together with the bill passed in 2021 to ban expanded polystyrene foam products and reduce unwanted plastic food service items, will help address a chronic source of plastic pollution and help to keep Washington’s iconic coastlines clean for future generations.”
“Not only are these bags a cause of plastic pollution, but they also cause major problems at our recycling facilities” said Heather Trim, Executive Director of Zero Waste Washington. “They wrap around the equipment, causing the entire facility to shut down while workers spend hours cutting the bags out.”
“Washingtonians are ready to put wildlife over waste,” said Pam Clough, Acting Director of Environment Washington. “The implementation of Washington’s bag law is an important step towards reducing harmful single-use plastics. Residents across Washington are concerned about the increasing load of plastic in our lives.”
Sean Dixon, Soundkeeper and Executive Director at Puget Soundkeeper Alliance continued, “We’re glad SB 5323 is back on track to reduce plastic trash in our waterways and environment. Banning products one by one, though, will not address root causes of this pollution. We need systems change if we’re ever going to turn off the plastics tap, and we’re looking forward to working with our partners and legislative champions to make that happen.”