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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Contact:
Terri Thomas, Waste Reduction Specialist at (360) 867-2279 or ThomasTe@co.thurston.wa.us

Plastic Bag Bans Begin July 1
Bans on single-use plastic bags in Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater and unincorporated county

There will be fewer plastic bags floating around Thurston County in five weeks. On July 1, single-use carryout plastic bags will be banned in the cities of Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater, and in the unincorporated areas of Thurston County.

The ban is for all stores and includes other retailers, such as those at farmers markets and street fairs. The ban is aimed at plastic carryout bags 2.25 mil or thinner that are typically given out by retailers when you pay for your purchases. Thicker plastic bags are considered reusable and have no restrictions. Retailers can decide if they want to charge customers for reusable bags or provide them for free.

Certain plastic bags are exempt from the bans, including in-store bags for things like bulk items, produce, and meat. The bans do not apply to plastic bags for dry cleaning, newspapers, or garbage bags sold in packages. Bags for prepared take-out food are also allowed for public health reasons.

In addition to the single-use plastic bag bans, all vendors will need to charge a minimum of five cents for paper carryout bags that are one-eighth barrel or larger, which is the size of a typical grocery bag. These bags must also have a 40 percent recycled content. There are no requirements for smaller paper bags. The retailers keep the fee, which will help with the cost of the more expensive paper bags. Paper bags are free for customers paying for food with an Electronic Benefit Transfer card and other food assistance programs. Food banks can still use plastic bags to distribute food.

Thurston County Solid Waste education and outreach supervisor Terri Thomas is encouraging residents to carry their own reusable bags to reduce environmental impacts and avoid the paper bag fee. "It can be hard to remember to bring them at first, but jurisdictions that have adopted bans report that residents adjust pretty quickly," said Thomas.

The county's website, at www.ThurstonSolidWaste.org/plastics, lists the ordinances, tips to remember to bring your bags, and guidelines for safe use of reusable bags. Retailers can download signs for their stores and fill out a quick survey that will help waste reduction staff evaluate the effectiveness of the bans. For more information, contact Terri Thomas at ThomasTe@co.thurston.wa.us or (360) 867-2279.


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County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3