OLYMPIA – Washington residents would be charged 8 cents apiece for paper grocery bags if a statewide ban on plastic bags is approved, the Senate decided late Tuesday night.
A bill that would ban stores from providing single-use plastic bags and instead require them to charge 8 cents apiece if a customer wants paper and reusable plastic bags, passed the Senate 31-14. An earlier version would have had the stores charge a dime for the bags.
Paper and reusable plastic bags would have to meet certain composting standards and be labeled compostable.
The bill aims to reduce bag consumption overall as shoppers move to reusable to avoid the fee, said Sen. Mona Das, D-Kent.
“We know the bill won’t eliminate plastic waste in Washington state, but we think it’s a good step on our journey to protect the environment,” she said.
But stores and bag providers should be the ones negotiating the cost of a bag, not Democrats and Republicans, said Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale.
“The fact that we as a Legislature think that we’re able to determine the cost of a bag in a free market society is just unbelievable,” Ericksen said. “Little things like this – 10 cents versus 8 cents – is the indicator that we are trying to micromanage an economy.”
If passed by the House and signed by the governor, the bill would preempt the 28 existing local ordinances in the state. All stores would have a year to comply with the law or face a penalty.
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