OLYMPIA, WA — Washington's statewide ban on plastic bags has been delayed until at least the end of January, and potentially may be pushed back to the summer.
The pandemic has caused numerous disruptions this year, and the delay is just one unexpected problem: the Department of Ecology says that supply chain issues caused by the pandemic means the state won't have enough paper or reusable plastic bags by the end of 2020, when the ban was originally going to go into effect.
As a result, Gov. Jay Inslee issued a proclamation postponing the plastic bag ban until at least Jan. 30 — and lawmakers are reportedly considering a proposal to delay the ban even further to June 30.
According to the state Department of Ecology, once the ban does go into effect, it means that:
Single-use plastic bags will be prohibited in all retail and grocery stores, restaurant takeout, festivals and markets.
Stores can instead offer large paper carryout bags, or thick reusable plastic carryout bags for an 8 cent fee each.Those fees do not apply to those paying for food through food stamps or assistance programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or Food Assistance Program (FAP).
Paper bags also have to be made of at least 40 percent recycled materials. Reusable plastic bags have to contain at least 20 percent recycled materials and be at least 2.25 mil thick.
The ban does not apply to food banks or food assistance programs, though it does encourage them to consider more environment-friendly options.
Customers who see businesses breaking the rules and offering single-use bags after the ban will be able to file a report, after which the DOE says they will try to help the business transition to recyclable bags