Ban on single-use plastic bags goes into effect on Friday

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A ban on single-use plastic bags that was originally scheduled to begin on the first of this year will go into effect Friday across Washington state.

The ban applies to single-use plastic carry-out bags by restaurants, retail stories, small vendors, and grocery stores, KIRO-TV reported. Gov. Jay Inslee postponed the ban because there weren’t enough compliant paper or plastic bags available when the ban was supposed to go into effect.

The Washington State Department of Ecology said plastic bags cause pollution other than the obvious litter.

The department said harmful chemicals are released when plastics are made, used, burned, or slowly disintegrate. The bags are not easily recycled and clog sorting machines, which puts workers at risk.

“Single-use plastic bags are not easily recyclable, which makes managing them at the end of their lives almost impossible,” said Laurie Davies, manager of Ecology’s Solid Waste Management Program. “Reducing their use will protect our rivers and streams and help our recycling system run more efficiently.”

Officials suggest people use reusable bags for groceries or carry out food. Some single-use plastic bags are allowed, including plastics to wrap meats and produce, prescription bags, and newspaper or dry-cleaning bags.