City Council to decide plastic bag ban soon
March 27, 2012
By Warren Kagarise
The proposal to ban plastic bags from Issaquah stores reaches the City Council for a public discussion April 2.
The city could join Bellingham, Edmonds, Mukilteo and Seattle to ban plastic bags at local retailers — a step designed to limit garbage headed for the King County landfill and reduce pollution in Puget Sound.
Issaquah council members could decide to vote on the measure or continue the discussion at a later meeting.
“The goal isn’t just to get everyone to switch from plastic to paper, it’s to get people to switch from bags that you use once to bags that you reuse,” Councilman Mark Mullet said.
In addition to limiting most plastic bags, the legislation requires retail stores to collect 5 cents for each paper bag provided to customers. The fee is meant to help retailers offset the cost.
City Council regular meeting
Under the proposal, plastic bags remain allowable for bakery items, bulk foods, meat, produce, dry cleaning, newspapers, small hardware items and takeout foods.
In addition, the measure exempts food banks, state and federal financial assistance program recipients, and services for low-income earners from the 5-cent fee.
If city leaders adopt the ordinance, the legislation calls for the rules to go into effect nine months later. Businesses could apply for temporary waivers during the startup period.
The city plans to provide reusable bags to low-income households if the measure is enacted. Mullet said the qualification for bags from the city should be similar to the rules for food stamps.
The city is also considering a reusable bag distribution event to generate awareness if the ordinance passes.
Council Utilities, Technology & Environment Committee members decided March 19 to refer the ordinance to the full council for consideration. The committee chairman, Mullet, spearheaded the plastic bag proposal.
The local ordinance comes months after the Seattle City Council adopted a plastic bag ban.
In Seattle, a broad plastic bag ban passed in December 2011 and due to start in July. The measure received critical support from the Northwest Grocery Association — a trade group representing Fred Meyer, QFC and Safeway in Washington. (The grocery chains operate stores in Issaquah.)
In the Issaquah legislation, leaders cited the global and regional litter concerns related to plastic bags. Though paper bags require more energy and water to produce, paper is biodegradable — unlike plastic — and is more easily recycled.
Officials said 49,000 tons of recyclable bags and film reached the county-run Cedar Hills Regional Landfill in 2010.
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.