Environmentalists hope Washington’s plastic bag ban will limit water pollution

SPOKANE, Wash. – Single-use plastic bags will no longer be an option in Washington starting Friday. Environmentalists hope this will protect the state’s ecosystem and limit water pollution.

Washingtonians use two billion plastic bags a year, according to the Washington Department of Ecology. In Spokane, the bags are turned into energy at the Waste to Energy plant. However, not all cities have this option.

“Our failure to properly dispose of plastic bags is what precipitates this ban,” said Greg Gordon, professor of environmental studies at Gonzaga University.

Gordan says plastic bags can end up in the ocean, which can harm orcas, salmon and other marine life.

“They break down into smaller and smaller particles, but they never biodegrade and so we end up with microplastics in rivers, oceans, streams, lakes,” he explained.

Some bags can be recycled. In Spokane, when they end up in the trash, they are burnt at the Waste to Energy plant, along with all the other trash. It can produce enough electricity for nearly 13,000 homes.

Gordon hopes people will carry their groceries in reusable bags rather than buying bags at the store.

“If we think about it, less hassle and more of what can I do to make the world a better place, it kind of helps change our mindset,” he said. “It’s a little thing that can benefit all of us.”

A recyclable paper or plastic bag will cost you eight cents. However, a company could charge you more, if they wanted to. The companies will keep the money and it will appear on your receipt.

The ban does not remove bags for products like products or prescriptions.

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Bryce K. Locke