-For Immediate Release-
WASHPIRG at the University of Washington
[email protected], 626-622-8761
Seattle, WA – Governor Inslee signed the Reusable Bag Bill Wednesday, which will ban single-use plastic grocery bags statewide.
The legislation, which goes into effect on Jan 1, 2021, bans retailers from giving out single-use plastic carryout bags and requires an 8-cent charge for other bags.
“We’re excited to see the state legislature and Governor take this important action to protect our waterways and wildlife, said Maddie More, Wildlife Over Waste Campaign Coordinator for WashPIRG Students at the University of Washington. “We applaud Governor Inslee, Senator Das and all our legislators for acting on the long-held values of Washingtonians to protect our beautiful places.”
Motivated by rising concerns around plastic pollution, WashPIRG Students has been working this year to build support to ban single-use plastics.
“About 8 million metric tons of plastic are thrown into the ocean annually, where it injures and kills marine life like whales, sea turtles, and birds, “said Moore. “A lot of this plastic pollution comes from single-use items that we only use for a few minutes and then throw away, like single-use bags, cups, and takeout containers. Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute our ocean for hundreds of years.”
To build support for the Reusable Bag Bill, WashPIRG Students held educational events like their Break-Up with Plastics Resources Fair event around Valentine’s Day, generated petitions from their peers on campus, signed on small business leaders in support, and held a Students for a Plastic-Free Washington Lobby Day in Olympia.
“We’re working towards a clearer, healthier future for our generation,” continued Moore. “We know students want our state to move away from unnecessary single-use plastics, and we’re excited to see our state act for our future.”
Opponents of the legislation argued that plastic bags help reduce the spread of the coronavirus in grocery stores and other retail shops.
“This is an effort from plastic companies to ignite fear around reusable items,” said Moore. “Medical experts are on the record explaining that soap and hot water are effective at killing coronavirus on reusable items. Single-use disposable items are not safer than properly washed reusables as they can harbor viruses and pathogenic bacteria. In a time when the plastics industry is trying to take advantage of a pandemic to make a profit it’s great to see Governor Inslee champion the environment.”