Bellingham’s Plastic Bag Ban took effect August 1, 2012

The City of Bellingham took a big step forward in reducing litter and unnecessary waste, protecting water and wildlife, and saving money by reducing the use of plastic bags in our community.

The Bellingham City Council approved the Single Use Carry Out Bag Ordinance (commonly known as the “plastic bag ban”) in July 2011.

The new law took effect August 1, 2012.

Key elements of the ordinance

  • Single-use plastic carry out bags are prohibited.  This includes all plastic bags less than 2.25 mils thick provided at check out or point of sale.
  • Customers must be charged 5-cents per large paper bag. Retailers keep the revenue from the 5-cent charge, which is taxable and must be shown on sales receipts.
  •  Large paper bags requiring the 5-cent charge must be a minimum of 40-percent post-consumer recycled fiber and the fiber content must be marked on the outside.
  •  Smaller paper bags may be provided with or without charge at the store’s discretion.
  •  Thick plastic bags — 2.25 mil or greater — are deemed reusable and may be provided with or without charge at the store’s discretion.
  •  Plastic bags used for restaurant take-out foods and meats and produce in grocery stores will still be allowed, because of the public health functions they provide.

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