Bellingham plastic bag ban to be replaced by new state law

New bag rules in effect starting October 1

September 30, 2021 - by Riley Grant, Public Works

Washington state’s plastic bag ban will go into effect Friday, Oct. 1, 2021 and will replace Bellingham’s nine-year old bag ban.

Under the new state-wide law (Senate Bill 5323), Washington State Department of Ecology will ban thin plastic bags from all retailers, boutiques and restaurants. Businesses can offer paper or thicker plastic bags with a charge to the customer.

Locally, Bellingham shoppers will see changes to the plastic bag ban under the state’s new law. Those changes include:

  • Fee for acceptable bags is $.08, an increase from Bellingham’s $.05 fee, the fee is subject to state sales tax;
  • Acceptable bags include:
    • Large paper carryout bags that contain a minimum of 40% recycled content
    • Thick reusable plastic carryout bags made with a minimum 20% recycled content and a minimum of 2.25 mil thick film
    • Green or brown compostable bags – the fee for these bags is optional
  • All retail and grocery stores, restaurants, takeout establishments, festivals, and markets are subject to state law;
  • Enforcement of state law will fall to Department of Ecology.

This is the first of several local and state laws aimed at reducing single-use plastics, including City of Bellingham Council Ordinance 2021-05-023, adopted by the City Council on May 24, 2021, which will limit single-use plastics in food service and lodging industries. That ordinance will go into effect July 31, 2022, and the City plans to provide education and technical support for businesses starting in early 2022. To learn more visit the single-use plastics webpage at

Media Contact

Riley Grant, Public Works or (360) 778-7732

Janice Keller, Communications Director or (360) 778-8100

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