Reusable Bag Ordinance
Snohomish’s Reusable Bag Ordinance (PDF), effective January 1, 2020, prohibits retail establishments from providing consumers thin, single-use plastic carryout bags (less than 2.25 mils in thickness) and requires that retailers charge consumers a minimum of .10 cents for each carryout bag they are provided. The ordinance was approved by the Snohomish City Council on February 19th, 2019, and is intended to reduce waste and protect the environment.
Reusable Bag FAQ
1. What is the Reusable Bag Ordinance?
The Reusable Bag Ordinance (2360) prohibits retail establishments from providing thin, single-use plastic carryout bags (less than 2.25 mils in thickness) to consumers and requires that retailers charge a minimum of .10 cents for each large paper or durable “reusable” plastic carryout bag provided. The ordinance was approved by the Snohomish City Council on February 19, 2019, in an effort to reduce waste and protect the environment.
2. When does the ordinance go into effect?
January 1, 2020
3. What retailers are affected by the ordinance?
Any retail establishment that sells a product and provides carryout bags to consumers is subject to the ordinance. This includes retail stores, restaurants, businesses and vendors.
4. Are any retailers exempt from charging carryout bag fees?
Yes, food banks may provide any type of bag without charging carryout bag fees.
5.What carryout bags are still available?
Retail establishments may provide consumers large paper bags and durable “reusable” plastic bags as carryout bags with a minimum .10-cent fee.
6. What about small paper bags?
Small paper bags are not subject to the ordinance and may be provided to consumers to hold or protect items.
7. What about thin, single-use plastic bags used in-store?
Bags provided in-store for such items as bulk foods, meats, produce, bakery goods and flowers are still allowed. Only thin, single-use bags used for “carryout” are prohibited.
8. Can takeout food still be placed in a thin single-use plastic bag?
No, thin single-use plastic bags for takeout food are not exempt.
9. Why is there a fee for carryout bags?
By charging a carryout bag fee, the city is incentivizing consumers to switch to reusable bags to reduce waste.
10. What happens to the carryout bag fee?
The retailer retains the carryout bag fee to help defray the cost of implementing the ordinance.
11. Can retailers charge carryout bag fees for other bags?
Yes, retailers can choose to charge carryout bag fees for other bags provided to consumers at their discretion.
12. Are there any exemptions to the carryout bag regulations?
Yes, the following carryout bags are exempt from the ordinance:
newspaper bags, door-hanger bags, tire bags, laundry/dry cleaning bags and bags sold in packages containing multiple bags for uses such as food storage, garbage, pet waste or yard waste.
13. How are low-income residents impacted?
All residents are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags, however, to ease the impact on low-income customers, retailers must waive the carryout bag fee for customers paying with a voucher or electronic benefits card issued under:
• Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
• Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) support programs
• Federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
• Washington State Food Assistance Program (FAP)
14. What are some tips for remembering to bring reusable bags to the store?
• Place a reminder sticker by your door or in your vehicle
• Keep bags in the front of the vehicle where you can see them
• Make "bring bags" the first item on your grocery list
• Designate someone to be in charge of remembering bags, if you shop with others
• Store multiple bags inside each other so you can grab them easily
• Put small bags in your backpack, shoulder bag or purse
• Let the carryout bag fee be a reminder to bring your bag
15. How should I keep my reusable bags clean?
Wash your bags regularly for your health and safety. Consider designating specific bags for carrying meat, seafood, produce, and cleaning products to avoid contamination. Likewise, consider having some reusable bags for non-food purchases like books and household items that won’t need to be washed as often.
16.How do I recycle plastic bags?
Plastic bags are accepted for recycling at many grocery stores.
Visit plasticfilmrecycling.com for locations.