The refrain “paper or plastic” will still be heard at your local supermarket, but starting today the plastic bags will be a lot sturdier.
The ban was approved in 2020 by the Washington State Legislature, but its implementation was delayed at the start of the pandemic.
Materials Management Coordinator for the Washington Department of Ecology, Shannon Jones says single-use bags are a threat to the environment.
“They are a major contaminant in our recycling system, that lowers the value of our recyclables, and creates worker safety issues,” Jones says. “They're also a major source of litter, and marine pollution in our state’s waterways. And they also are just simply wasteful.”
The new thicker bags are reusable up to 125 times.
Paper bags are also being made more environmentally friendly. The state requires them to be made from at least 40% recycled materials.
People can bring their own bags from home to use for shopping as well.
She says the public can report stores that violate the ban through an online reporting form on the Department of Ecology's website.
She says business who violate the policy could be fined 250-dollars a day.
“Were definitely going to work with business,” Jones says. “It would take repeated ongoing willful non-compliance to result in the penalties.”
There will be some exceptions to the single use bags, including the thin bags provided for wrapping meat and produce in the store, as well as packaged bags sold in stores for sandwiches or trash.