By Kristine Javier
With increasing concerns about environmental pollution, the state legislature has issued a ban on single-use plastic. In addition, with effect from last Friday, October 1, 2021, it charged corresponding fees for the use of other types of shopping bags.
The Washington Department of Ecology (DES) estimates that there are around two billion single-use plastic bags in the state each year. These bags are often a problem in the recycling system and contain toxic chemicals that can be harmful to the environment.
As a result, state lawmakers enacted Chapter 70A.530 RCW, which prohibited businesses from using single-use plastic bags and allowed retailers to charge equivalent fees for other types of bags in stores, restaurants, takeaways, festivals, and markets.
The ban was approved in 2020 but temporarily suspended after Governor Jay Inslee delayed its implementation due to insufficient supplies and concerns about the transmission of COVID-19.
While single-use plastic bags are banned, the state allows other types of bags, though they come with associated fees.
The pieces of luggage allowed include:
- Thick Reusable Plastic Bags: Stores are required to charge a $ 0.08 reusable bag fee. These bags must also state their thickness in mils and be marked with the word “reusable”.
- Large paper bags: Retailers may charge a fee of $ 0.08 for bags that are 882 cubic inches or larger. These bags must be made from at least 40 percent recycled post-consumer content or wheat straw. Its percentage must also be indicated on the bag.
- Small paper bags: Retailers do not need to charge small paper bags. Just like the large paper bags, they must be made from 40 percent post-consumer recycling or wheat straw and clearly labeled with the percentage.
- Plastic bag: These types of single-use plastic bags are exempt from the ban.
- Compostable bags: The state does not recommend the use of compostable plastic bags because some commercial composting facilities do not accept compostable bags.
Many more loopholes
The law allows single-use plastic bags for a variety of uses, including:
- In the shop: These include those used to package bulk items such as fruits, vegetables, and grains, small hardware items such as nails and bolts, or greeting cards.
- For hygiene: These include bags for packing moist items like frozen food, meat, fish, and for other purposes like packing baked goods, prescription drugs, and potted plants.
- Other: the exemption also applies to bags for the delivery of printed newspapers, mailers, sealed envelopes, door hanger bags, laundry / cleaning bags, or bags sold in multi-bag packages to hold food, rubbish, or pet litter.
Green or brown plastic bags are also prohibited, with the exception of using green or brown compostable bags. The state also prohibits retailers from using misleading labels such as “biodegradable”, “degradable”, “degradable”.
Facilities that fail to abide by the ban can expect a $ 250 fee.