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Burien joins growing list of Northwest cities to ban plastic bags

There are currently more than 20 cities across Washington state that have adopted single-use plastic bag ban ordinances.

BURIEN, Wash. — The City of Burien is taking steps to ensure people are prepared for its impending single-use plastic bag ban, which is set to take effect on January 1, 2020. 

In January of this year, the Burien City Council unanimously passed an ordinance to ban plastic bags in retail establishments and restaurants. 

Businesses have until the new year to use up their current stock and to help shoppers prepare for the ban, the city is handing out a limited number of reusable bags at community events.

If customers don't have any reusable bags, they can pay 10-cents for a paper bag.

Marisol Diaz with Zero Waste Washington is helping spread the word, in multiple languages, across the city. 

"When you are telling them we are switching away from the cheaper going into the little more expensive it can be really difficult for them to make that transition," said Diaz, who has been passing our informational fliers in English and Spanish. "But we are here to actually more educate people and tell them we understand this, and we are trying to help you, and also the environment as best as we can." 

RELATED: Kitsap County approves plastic bag ban for 2020

The plastic ban ordinance states:

  • Bans plastic bags from being provided at point of sale.
  • Requires business owners collect a minimum 10-cent charge for paper bags.
  • Allows businesses to keep the 10-cent charge.
  • Exempts damp or contaminated items, such as roasted chicken bags.
  • Exempts in-store plastic bags like produce bags, bulk item bags, and bags for meat.
  • Provides encouragement to food banks, who will be exempt from the ban, to transition away from plastic bags.

Retailers cannot collect the 10-cent charge from those who present a voucher or electronic benefits card (EBT).

RELATED: Everett's plastic bag ban starts Monday

The law applies to all retail businesses within Burien including grocery stores, convenience stores, fast-food restaurants, as well as temporary retailers like farmers markets and festivals.

Credit: Burien Administrator

The council is also considering a second ordinance banning plastic straws, polystyrene containers, and other non-compostable foodservice products.

The city will be providing support for restaurants and retailers affected by the ban.

More information and resources for shoppers and retailers are provided in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese on the city's website.