September 30, 2021

Janice Keller, Communications Director
City of Bellingham
(360) 778-8100

Bellingham Plastic Bag Ban To Be Replaced By New State Law

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:

  • The 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 of 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 the 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

        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism
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Phone: 360-671-3990

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