Shoppers will have to bring their own bags — or pay extra for a sturdy, reusable bag — starting this Friday (Oct. 1).
The state’s ban on plastic bags prohibits the use of most single-use plastic bags, although bags for bulk items such as fruit and vegetables, nuts and grains, candy, and small hardware items are permitted.
The reusable bags will cost an extra 8 cents, but they will last a long time — they’re required to hold up to 125 uses and be able to carry at least 22 pounds.
The 8-cent-charge is not a tax — it’s a sale kept by the merchant to provide an incentive for customers to bring their own bags. It also helps stores recoup the costs of the more durable bags. Food banks and individuals receiving food stamps and other government assistance are not subject to the 8-cent charge.
Although the ban takes effect right away, retail establishments are permitted to use up their existing inventory of bags, and there won’t be a charge for those bags.
The ban is intended to decrease litter; protect human health, wildlife and the environment; and reduce the harmful chemicals released when bags are produced, used or incinerated.
Enforcement of the ban will be handled by the state Department of Ecology and will be based on complaints. Violators will be subject to a $250 fine. Ecology will also conduct education and outreach.