A bill sponsored by 21st District State Rep. Strom Peterson to ban single-use plastic bags in retail stores statewide has been approved by the Washington State Legislature and is headed to the governor’s desk for signature.
Peterson’s bill passed the House on Monday, March 9 after a companion bill in the Senate — SB 5323— was approved Jan. 15.
“The actions we take today affect the Washington we will leave for future generations,” said Peterson, a Democrat from Edmonds. “Plastic pollution has gotten worse in the 11 years since I first championed a reusable bag ordinance while on the Edmonds City Council. Reducing plastic bag pollution means healthier waterways, more robust fish populations, and cleaner forests. I am excited to see this get over the finish line.”
The bill allows retailers — including grocers — to provide paper bags or reusable, plastic film, 2.25 mil bags for 8 cents each. The reusable bags must meet standards for strength, durability and recycled content. The 8-cent pass-through charge would help retailers recover the costs of the paper or durable plastic bags and create an incentive for shoppers to bring their own bags. In 2026, the allowed plastic film bags would increase in thickness from 2.25 to 4 mil and the pass-through charge would increase to 12 cents.
Shoppers who bring their own reusable bags would not be charged. People using the State Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program; or the state Food Assistance Program (FAP) would also not be subject to the pass-through charge.
Thirty-eight jurisdictions throughout Washington state — comprising about one-third of Washington’s jurisdictions — have enacted plastic bag ban measures. SB 5323 is modeled after those local laws and applies one uniform set of regulations to the state.
Edmonds was the first Washington state city to ban plastic bags, when the Edmonds City Council voted to do so in July 2009.