Washington’s Single-Use Plastic Bag Ban

Plastic bags are a major contaminant in Washington’s recycling facilities, waterways, roadways, and environment. Washington's Plastic Bag Ban will reduce pollution by prohibiting single-use plastic carryout bags and charging a fee for acceptable bags in business establishments beginning in January 2021.

Single-Use Plastic Bag Ban

Why ban single-use plastic bags?

   *     Every year Washingtonians use 2 billion single-use plastic bags

    *     Plastic bags are a big problem in the recycling system

    *     Plastic bags contain chemicals that are toxic once released into the environment

    *     Plastic bags cost retailers money

    *     Plastic pollution poses both physical and chemical threats to the marine environment

    *     Reusable bags or recyclable paper bags are a better alternative


Studies show COVID-19 is not likely to be spread by surface transmission at all.

Early in the pandemic, claims circulated that single-use plastics, like plastic bags, were safer than reusable items. However, studies and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, the Washington Department of Health, and other medical researchers do not support this claim. They indicate COVID-19 is not more likely to be spread on surfaces like reusable bags than on plastic bags.

To be safe, many businesses in the 39 Washington cities and counties that already have plastic bag bans have suspended their bans and stopped allowing customers to bring their own reusable bags until more information became available. Some businesses have retained this policy and others have returned to allowing customers to use their reusable shopping bags.

However, when the statewide bag ban begins, stores will be required to allow customers to bring in reusable bags to comply with the statewide law. Businesses may also require customers to bag their own groceries in these bags, if they choose. Take common sense measures like washing your reusable bags after use, and sanitizing your hands and bags.


    *     Gov. Jay Inslee and the Legislature have acted to delay implementation of the statewide plastic bag ban until the
           COVID-19 State of Emergency declaration has been lifted.

    *     The Legislature is considering passage of Substitute House Bill 1053, which may impact the Governor’s Proclamation.  

    *     Please join the bag ban email listserv for continued COVID-19/bag ban related updates.

   *      Our top priority is keeping Washingtonians healthy during this pandemic. We are working closely with state and federal
          agencies to follow the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health