On March 25th, 2020, Governor Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 5323, more commonly known as the statewide single-use plastic bag ban into law. While the plastic bag ban debate continues, Inslee’s signature indicates that the bill is now a law, and it will be going into effect in January 2021.
The new law is described as “an act relating to reducing pollution from plastic bags by establishing minimum state standards for the use of bags at retail establishments”. It specifically prohibits retailers from handing out single use plastic bags, as well as paper bags and reusable bags that do not meet recycled content requirements. Once the ban goes into effect, retailers will only be allowed to hand out paper bags and reusable bags made out of at least 40% recycled materials. The reusable bags may be made out of film plastic, but only if it meets the recycled content quota and is thick enough to be used multiple times. Retailers will also be required to charge an 8 cent fee for any bags handed out. Starting in 2026, the fee will be raised to 12 cents. Additionally, it prevents any city, town, county, or municipality from implementing any local carryout bag ordinance. It will also override any existing plastic bag bans.
This bill was originally drafted in the Washington State Senate in January 2019 and sponsored by numerous state senators, including Senator Mona Das, Senator Reuven Carlyle, and Senator Patty Kuderer. With the support of these senators, the bill managed to pass through the Washington State Senate. However, it got stalled in the House, and ended up never seeing a House vote in 2019.
SB 5323 got another chance at living on in January 2020, when the House reintroduced the bill. Two months later, in March 2020, the bill passed through the House,with amendments. The Senate concurred with the amendments, and the bill was finally signed by the Speaker of the House. Finally, it got delivered to Governor Inslee, where it became the law we know today.
In this episode, we discuss existing plastic bag bans, what the upcoming statewide ban might look like in Sammamish, and the pros and cons of banning single use plastics with representatives from Kirkland and Issaquah, a Sammamish restaurant owner, and a Sammamish City Council Member.