Seattle Public Utilities: Single-Use Plastic Bag Ban

The Need: Reduce use of single-use plastic bags.

The Solution: Implemented outreach to inform stores and customers of new statewide bag ban requirements.

What makes it particularly smart or circular? Bag ban requirements for reusable plastic bags provide initial 20% post-consumer recycle content and increase to 40% on July 1, 2022.

Results, Benefits, and Outcomes to Date: Working together Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) staff and Washington Department of Ecology staff designed the outreach plan and materials through a collaborative stakeholder engagement process.

Which of the Pact’s 4 Targets does your work help achieve? Target 1 & 4

How are you communicating your success? Prior to the law’s effective date, we engaged in a series of education meetings with major suppliers, distributors, manufacturers, and companies using bags – in partnership with Washington Department of Ecology staff. For the Seattle area SPU provided a direct mail letter and flyer to all effected businesses including all Seattle restaurants, grocers, and stores.

What’s Next? SPU continues to provide education sessions for suppliers, sales teams, and information to the general public via local media. SPU is also distributing free customer facing posters promoting BYOB bring your own bag.

Roadblocks & Lessons Learned: Challenges included timing of outreach as a result of the lifting of statewide restrictions (COVID) that left only a short period of a couple months between the time when the law was paused and when the law was going into full effect. Because of this the planned “transition period” outlined in the original law was not provided, which has resulted in many stores having large quantities of non-compliant bags on hand.

Core Team, Partners, & Participants: Seattle Public Utilities, Washington State Department of Ecology, statewide grocer associations, restaurant associations, and ethnic chambers of commerce.

Time Frame: The legislation was passed after many years of work and local jurisdictions implementing similar laws. Followed by a comprehensive plan development process and finally an implementation period that was quickly initiated because of COVID timing implications.

Budget: The majority of budget is within the staff time committed to the project. Some SPU budget was dedicated to development and design of outreach materials, printing, postage, and distribution.

Quote: “Building upon many years of local laws the Washington state bag ban requirements advance into practice a set of strategies to reduce plastic bag use, increase recycle content levels, and promote reuse – Bring your own Bag!” – Pat Kaufman, Senior Planning & Development Specialist, Seattle Public Utilities

Company/Organization Information: (Seattle Public Utilities) City of Seattle founded in 1851, Washington State founded in 1889.


Washington State Bag Requirements

Wastington State Bag Requirements Graphic

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