REMINDER: Plastic-bag ban expands beyond the city this Friday

Back when Seattle banned single-use plastic bags for grocery stores and many other businesses nine years ago, some pointed out they would still be able to get them nearby, with unincorporated King County right next door. Starting this Friday, that changes, as the statewide plastic-bag ban goes into effect, nine months later than originally scheduled. Here’s an overview from the state Department of Ecology; take note of this part:

If customers choose to use compliant plastic or paper bags offered by a merchant, the law requires the business charge 8 cents per bag. That 8-cent-charge is not a tax; it is a sale kept entirely by the merchant to provide an incentive for customers to bring their own bags and to recoup the costs for the more durable compliant bags.

Food banks and pantries, and individuals receiving food stamps, WIC, SNAP, or other government assistance are not subject to the 8-cent charge. Some single-use plastic bags are exempt from the law, including plastics to wrap meats and produce, bags for prescriptions, and newspaper or dry-cleaning bags.

27 Replies to "REMINDER: Plastic-bag ban expands beyond the city this Friday"

  • sgs September 29, 2021 (12:07 pm)

    yay, hurray, small steps; Reusables are widely available – even for produce bags.  Individuals making changes is important, but scaling up is the only way to make a real difference.

  • AdmiralE September 29, 2021 (12:15 pm)

    It’s a tax

    • zark00 September 30, 2021 (3:31 pm)

      @ADMIRALE – it is literally in the article:”That 8-cent-charge is not a tax; it is a sale kept entirely by the merchant to provide an incentive for customers to bring their own bags and to recoup the costs for the more durable compliant bags.”Why comment at all if you can’t be bothered to read two sentences to be even vaguely informed. 

  • anonyme September 29, 2021 (12:30 pm)

    Good.  Most plastics should be banned altogether unless they are recyclable.  Most are not.

    • Steve September 29, 2021 (2:04 pm)

      All plastics are recyclable. It may be expensive to sort them or to recycle them but that is a different issue.

      • Jay September 29, 2021 (4:11 pm)

        Pretty much everything made out of soft plastic or mixed density plastic is going to be prohibitively expensive to recycle at scale. There’s only one material that is guaranteed to be recycled when it goes to a recycling center and that is aluminum. Everything else has a higher chance of going to a landfill than being recycled. Even glass and plastic with the correct numbers.

      • Sigh September 29, 2021 (4:18 pm)

        No, plastics are not truly recyclable; they can only be downcycled.  Low-grade plastics like grocery bags have very few options for use, and those options are so much more expensive than alternatives made from non-recycled materials most grocery bags end up in the trash.  Even the ones that are “recycled”.

        • S.A. September 29, 2021 (6:19 pm)

          We recycle the plastic film packaging that comes on EVERYTHING via Ridwell.

      • WSREZZ September 29, 2021 (4:18 pm)

        Wishful thinking, Steve, but unfortunately, not all plastics are in fact recyclable and they are correct that most are not.

        • Steve September 29, 2021 (5:46 pm)

          All plastics are recyclable. It is more expensive and time consuming than just making new plastic is the issue.  Lower oil prices means it is cheaper to make new plastic than to recycle it.  There is a new type of recycling plastic that does not require sorting in the works in Europe at least. This is hopefully something that will eventually take off.

          • Al September 29, 2021 (9:38 pm)

            With all due respect, Steve, you are misinformed at best and just lying and trying to spread lies at worst. Plastics are petroleum based poison and their recyclability is mostly myth, as the vast majority of plastics and plastic bags are disposed. Don’t suggest plastic bags get all get recycled and are not a problem. Sorry, misinformation needs to be called out. Calling it out here. 

          • Annalisa September 30, 2021 (3:50 pm)

            Hi Steve, This is Annalisa, Community Manager for Ridwell. Thank you for your shout out for Ridwell! Most soft plastics, with the exception of Mylar (because of the metal-like coating) are indeed recyclable. The problem with municipal recycling facilities not being able to take soft or single use plastics/bags is that these types of plastics tend to get caught up in the sorting machinery and bring processing to a screeching halt.These plastics do have to be hand sorted, which is prohibitively expensive for a municipal facility to accommodate. Ridwell is a small independent recycler that does have the capacity to hand sort this type of plastic. We work with national plastic recycling giant, Trex (https://www.trex.com) that is able to recycle all of the sorted material generated by our members into a number of useful items with an extended life span way beyond that of an .08 bag from the grocery store. While we don’t yet have processing partners for ALL soft plastics yet, we work continuously to find new recycling partners to keep even more single use materials out of our landfills. As we continue to reduce, reuse and recycle more materials all the time! In the meantime, if folks are interested, here is our infographic showing what we can and can’t take currently, (https://www.ridwell.com/pickup-categories). 

    • Frog September 30, 2021 (10:40 am)

      Alas, this rule does not ban plastics.  It just forces people to pay for them in a nicely decorated box.  Up to now, we could re-use plastic grocery bags as trash bags.  But now we will need to buy commercial trash bags.  The plastic will still get made, and sent to the landfill, though now it truly will be “single use” plastic, instead of the double use for the good old grocery bags.  Like so many “progressive” initiatives, this one accomplishes little except to raise our cost of living.

    • BlairJ September 30, 2021 (10:43 am)

      Many things currently made of plastic could be made of compostable materials.

  • helpermonkey September 29, 2021 (1:16 pm)

    Are we allowed now to again bring our own bags to stores? I thought that changed during the original Covid lockdown, and I can’t find where it has been discussed since. 

    • WSB September 29, 2021 (1:26 pm)

      It’s always been up to individual stores. We regularly shop at Thriftway (WSB sponsor) and they started allowing them again a few months ago.

      • zark00 September 30, 2021 (3:43 pm)

        They do allow it, but the checkers and baggers do not appreciate it and would prefer we leave our bags at home. 

        • WSB September 30, 2021 (5:31 pm)

          It was checkers who went out of their way to let us know that personal bags were accepted again at Thriftway. Are you a checker? Is there one in your family? Back in the early days of the pandemic, the ban was understandable until it was clarified that surface transmission is NOT a notable risk.

    • bags September 29, 2021 (2:17 pm)

      I can report that PCC, Admiral Safeway and Met Market have all been allowing us to use our own bags for some time now.

    • CC September 29, 2021 (2:35 pm)

      Trader Joes and PCC let you bring your own bags too. 

  • Kalo September 29, 2021 (4:56 pm)

    Very informative and enlightening article about plastics and recycling in Consumer Reports (Oct. 2021). “8.7% of plastic was recycled. Much was used to make items that cannot be recycled again, and will end up in landfills.  Most plastics (75%) we recycle end up in the landfill, where it breaks down over time, creating microplastics that end up in the air, water and soil. About 16% is incinerated, which produces energy, but also generates toxic greenhouse gases.” **Stats from 2018
    In 2018, worldwide, 5Billion plastic bags were used!

  • Sunflower September 29, 2021 (7:08 pm)

    I’m going to try to remember to bring my own reusable bag to restaurants for take out, or simply opt out of the bag, from now on.

  • anonyme September 30, 2021 (8:04 am)

    Another plastic that is ubiquitous yet hardly ever mentioned is the plastic line used in line trimmers (weed whackers).  These leave small bits of plastic everywhere in the soil, and there is no way to remove them.  Eventually, many of these bits end up in waterways where they are eaten by fish, then eventually break down as Kalo described.  The ones remaining in soil are attractive to birds.  Replacing organic matter with plastic is not the way to maintain a healthy ecosystem. 

    • BlairJ September 30, 2021 (8:49 pm)

      For several years I have been using biodegradable weed whacker line.  Retailers don’t like to sell it because it breaks easily.  But for people who care more about reducing micro plastic pollution than they do about their own convenience, it is a solution.  The two brands I found online are Oregon Biotrim and Laser Bio line.

      • anonyme October 2, 2021 (6:44 am)

        BlairJ, great info – thanks!

  • Rick September 30, 2021 (9:58 am)

    Well, are eggs good for you today, or not? Waiting on my government to tell me. Until they change their collective minds.

    • alki_2008 October 1, 2021 (12:52 am)

      That has absolutely nothing to do with a ban on plastic bags.   And your comment about changing minds shows an inability to understand science.  Scientific studies happen continuously, and a study done in 2020 could provide more information than a study done in 2015. Do you think that once a study is done about a topic, then no other studies should ever be done on that topic again?  Even when technology advances and researchers have better tools to get more accurate conclusions?

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