BELLINGHAM, WASH. (July 14, 1:15 p.m. ET) — Bellingham has become the 23rd community in the United States and second in the state of Washington to ban single-use disposable plastic bags at retailers.
The ban, which goes into effect July 11, 2012, also requires retailers to charge shoppers at least five cents for each paper bag used at checkout. However, restaurants will still be able to use plastic bags for take-out items. City officials estimate that approximately 22 million single-use plastic bags are currently used annually by people in the town 90 miles north of Seattle which has a population of 80,000.
Plastic bags used for bulk items, frozen foods, meats and fish, prepared foods, flowers and prescription medicines also are excluded from the ban. Newspaper, door-hanger bags and laundry-cleaning bags are also exempt from the ban, which was unanimously approved July 11.
The other city in Washington state with a plastic bag ban is Edmonds.
Bellingham is the ninth community in the U.S. to ban plastic bags this year. In addition to the bag bans in 23 U.S. communities, Washington, D.C., and Montgomery County, Maryland, have a 5-cent tax on plastic and paper bags at carryout.