Statewide single-use bag ban starts Oct. 1

Statewide single-use bag ban starts Oct. 1

Webinar: What you need to know about the single-use plastic bag ban

Featuring Shannon Jones, material management coordinator for Western Washington at the Department of Ecology, and Samantha Louderback, state government affairs senior manager at the Washington Hospitality Association.

Click here for a cop of the PowerPoint presentation.


The 2020 Legislature approved a ban on single-use plastic bags, which was originally scheduled to go into effect this year. The Washington Hospitality Association worked with other associations and businesses to delay implementation of this ban during the public health crisis.

Gov. Jay Inslee agreed to this request and issued a proclamation to delay the bag ban. However, that proclamation will expire on Sept. 30.

Starting Oct. 1, single-use plastic carryout bags in all retail, restaurant and takeout establishments will be prohibited. This means businesses that haven’t done so already should begin the process of phasing out single-use plastic bags.

WA Dept of Ecology plastic bag ban graphicUpcoming bag ban details

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:

  • Bags that contain or wrap items where dampness or sanitation might be a problem, including but not limited to frozen foods, meat, fish, flowers, potted plants are exempt.
  • Bags that contain unwrapped prepared foods or bakery goods are exempt.
  • Bags that protect a purchased item from damaging or contaminating other purchased items are exempt.

Mandatory bag charges

Food establishments must include an $0.08 charge on any thicker (2.25 mil) plastic bag or a larger paper bag (1/8 barrel bag).

  • The $0.08 charge is per bag and mandatory.
  • This charge must be listed as a separate line item on receipts provided to customers.
  • Businesses must keep all revenues generated from the charge.
  • The charge is considered a taxable retail sale that must be reported to the Department of Revenue. However, these charges can be deducted from B&O taxes.
  • Additional tax information from the Department of Revenue can be found here.

Local bag bans

This statewide ban supersedes all local ordinances, except in those jurisdictions 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.

Cities where the fee is $0.10:

  • Bingen
  • Burien
  • Lake Forest Park
  • Snohomish
  • White Salmon


Businesses must exempt customers using the following programs from bag charges:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Women, Infants, & Children (WIC)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • State Food Assistance Program (FAP)

What’s next?

Businesses with existing single-use plastic bag inventory should develop a plan to use that inventory by the end of September. You will be responsible for complying with the new law starting Oct. 1.

The Department of Ecology is the enforcing agency, and it will initially focus on education rather than enforcement. Repeat violations may result in fines of up to $250.

If you have questions, please contact Samantha Louderback at

Additional information

Department of Ecology: Information & FAQs
ESSB 5323: Bill text
ESSB 5323: Final bill report

Department of Ecology downloadable PDFs

Restaurant flyer
Retail flyer
Point of sale sign
BYOB posters
Bag ban toolkit (multiple languages)