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 it 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, bags are converted into energy at the Waste to Energy plant. However, not every city has this option.

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

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

“They break down to 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 burned at the Waste to Energy plant, along with all the other garbage. It can produce enough power 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 has an inconvenience and more as of a what can I do to make the world a better place sort of helps change our mindset,” he said. “It’s a small thing that can have benefits for all of us.”

A recyclable paper or plastic bag will cost you eight cents. However, a business could charge you more, if it wants. Businesses will keep the money and it’ll show up on your receipt.

The ban does not take away bags for things like produce or prescriptions.

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