Bellingham’s single-use plastics ordinance (Ordinance 2021-05-023) passed in May of 2021 takes effect July 31. Most single use plastics such as utensils, small shampoo bottles, etc., will no longer be allowed in food establishments, grocery stores and lodging facilities. Prepackaged foods in plastic packaging may be continued to be sold by food service establishments.

There is a list of single use plastic food service products that are exempt until January 1, 2023 such as containers and trays for hot meat items.

The ordinance also requires durable food service wares such as plates, utensils and cups be used instead of disposables for on-site dining.

The public works director is responsible for implementation and enforcement of the ordinance. The director may extend exemptions for certain single-use plastic products up to a year, which could be renewed if there are not at least two suitable and readily commercially available alternatives. Additionally, the director may provide a waiver to the durable wares for on-premises dining for establishments without dishwashing capacity for durable wares.

The ordinance requires an education first approach by the city but does allow for financial penalties if a business does not come into compliance following an educational intervention.

More information from the city with specifics can be found here.

The local government affairs team has been in contact with the city and will be monitoring the implementation of the ordinance. Please contact John Lane at if you have questions.