February 21, 2012
Ban on plastic bags is way of the future
Carrying your own bag into a store for your groceries or other purchases will take some getting used to, but it’s the right way to go. We have no doubt that plastic bags will be banned statewide only a few years into the future. It appears the future is now for Issaquah.
The City Council’s Utilities, Technology & Environment Committee heard from the public for the first time last week regarding a citywide ban on plastic bags. We’re pleased to know the council is taking the idea seriously and will take an ordinance back to the council in March.
Only a few people representing themselves were at the committee’s Feb. 16 meeting, but environmental organizations were there to support or denounce the proposal.
The ban would model the ordinance passed in Seattle just two months ago. The ordinance is not just about grocery store bags, but also applies to convenience stores, department stores, farmers markets and home-improvement retailers. The ordinance exempts restaurants. A 5-cent fee would be charged for paper bags.
Councilman Mark Mullet said that grocers stand behind the ban; reportedly a grocer can save $150,000 per year by not supplying the bags. The committee also learned that plastic bags thwart the recycling process, jamming the sorting machines a couple of times daily. Another speaker said that the bags do break down in landfills, Mullet said, but do not biodegrade, eventually becoming small bits in the soil and streams.
Certainly, there is bound to be an outpouring of public resentment to the ban on bags, more so than from business owners.
The public kicked back when home, office and school recycling was implemented, but now recycling is an understood goal. The same will be true when the convenience of plastic bags is not an option.
We encourage the council to listen carefully, modify if needed, and then pass the ban.