During the 2020 legislative session, the legislature passed a statewide ban that prohibits the use of single-use plastic bags starting Jan. 1, 2021.  While there are some exemptions for food establishments to use single-use bags that do not have handles and smaller paper bags to prevent cross-contamination with ready to eat foods, food establishments must charge an $0.08 fee on any thicker (2.25 mil) plastic bag or a larger paper bag (1/8 barrel bag). Food establishments that are providing a thicker plastic or larger paper bag must collect an $0.08 fee and keep the entirety of the fee. Sales tax on the $0.08 applies, and businesses can deduct the collected fees from their B&O tax. This legislation supersedes all local ordinances, except in those cities/counties where the implemented fee is $0.10. In those cases, businesses will need to charge $0.10 for the thicker plastic and bigger paper bags.

The Washington Hospitality Association and our partners realize that coronavirus has had a vast impact on bag inventory as take-out has become a necessity. Because of this, our coalition has asked the governor to issue a proclamation delaying the implementation of the bag ban and from there will work on legislation delaying implementation to July 1, 2021, dependent on inventory and supply. We anticipate that the Governor’s Office will execute the proclamation in Dec. 2020, then we will work with the legislature to approve the bill.

Bag ban and additional information:

  • Staring Jan. 2021, retailers/restaurants are not allowed to offer single-use t-shirt bags to customers
  • Restaurants are allowed to offer single-use plastic bags that do not have handles AND smaller paper bags to customers without charging a fee or receiving a penalty to:
    • Contain or wrap items where dampness or sanitation might be a problem, including but not limited to frozen foods, meat, fish, flowers, potted plants
    • Contain unwrapped prepared foods or bakery goods
    • Protect a purchased item from damaging or contaminating other purchased items
  • Restaurants can recoup costs of purchasing and offering thicker 2.2m mil plastic bags and/or 1/8 barrel (large grocery) paper bags by charging customers $0.08
  • Sales tax on the $0.08 fee does apply, however businesses can deduct the collected fees from their B&O tax
  • Businesses are authorized to use existing inventory until gone. This means you can stock up on single-use plastic bags now and you will be allowed to use them until they are gone without penalty
  • The Department of Ecology is the enforcing agency but will focus on education rather than enforcement in the first year
  • More information from the Department of Ecology
  • Cities or counties where the fee is $0.10
    • Bingen
    • Burien
    • Lake Forest Park
    • Snohomish
    • White Salmon


  • Click here to read the bill in its entirety


If you have questions, please contact Samantha Louderback at .