Commissioners for the county, which includes the state capital, Olympia, said in a news release the ban will begin July 1 of next year.
The new ordinance eliminates thin-film plastic carryout bags in unincorporated Thurston County. Certain plastic bags are exempt, including in-store bags for things like bulk items, produce and meat. The ban does not include plastic bags for prepared take-out food, dry cleaning, newspapers or garbage bags sold in packages.
The ordinance places a fee on paper bags to help stores offset the higher costs of providing paper bags. The fee is intended as an incentive for shoppers to bring their own bags.
The legislation is modeled on similar plastic bag ban ordinances currently in place in seven other Washington cities.
Earlier in the month the city council for Tumwater approved a similar ban on plastic grocery-style bags, becoming the first city in Thurston County to approve a ban.
The county move comes shortly before the county’s major waste and recycling collection provider, LeMay Inc., discontinues collecting plastic carryout bags and other plastic film.
“The costs of trying to manage plastic film are mounting, and the environmental damage is mounting,” said County Commission Chairman Sandra Romero. “This ordinance is our best chance to get a handle on the problems our community faces with plastic bags."