Issaquah Chamber of Commerce is neutral on proposed plastic bag ban

March 29, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 10:30 a.m. March 29, 2012

Issaquah Chamber of Commerce leaders decided to remain neutral as the City Council considers legislation to outlaw plastic bags, but entrepreneurs raised concerns about possible impacts on local businesses due to such a ban.

Matthew Bott

The council is considering legislation to ban plastic bags for most retail uses and require stores to collect 5 cents for each paper bag provided to customers. The fee is meant to help retailers offset the cost.

The proposed ordinance reaches the council for discussion and a possible decision April 2. If enacted, the legislation calls for the ban to start in 2013.

In a letter to council members, chamber CEO Matthew Bott outlined the organization’s position and asked leaders to consider unintended effects.

“After reviewing the issue and  surveying our members, we are not in a position to make an official recommendation on the matter,” the letter states.

The chamber received responses from more than 70 survey participants; a little more than half opposed the proposed legislation.

The 5-cent fee for paper bags also raised concerns about a plastic bag ban as a deterrent for consumers.

“The chamber remains hopeful that the increased cost of shopping in Issaquah due to this ordinance, however slight, will not cause shifts in consumer behavior in driving business to neighboring communities,” the letter continues. “Even a slight shift of consumer spending habits can have a major impact on a business’ margins, specifically in the retail sector.”

Bott suggested another possible route to address the plastic bag issue.

“We believe it is a goal of all of us to see the legislation move forward at a state level to ensure businesses and consumers do not have to deal with a patchwork of varying ordinances across Washington,” the letter continues.

Legislation to ban plastic bags statewide is stalled in Olympia.

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.

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7 Responses to “Issaquah Chamber of Commerce is neutral on proposed plastic bag ban”

  1. jimu on March 29th, 2012 10:09 pm

    Banning plastic bags is not a function of government. What I would rather see is the Chamber of Commerce voluntarily put a self-imposed ban of plastic bags on themselves.

    Rather than Matthew Bott passing the buck and saying it should be up to the State, a little proactive leadership in this area would be welcome.

  2. Smoley on March 30th, 2012 12:54 pm

    Mr. Bolt is rightly concerned that the ban should be statewide, otherwise folks like me are going to take their business to neighboring stores that don’t put up with this nonsensical plastic bag ban.

    I have plenty of choices on where to shop on the east side, and my business and city sales taxes can just as easily go to Sammamish, Bellevue, or Redmond.

  3. MBott on March 30th, 2012 2:10 pm

    jimu and Smoley-thanks for caring about this issue and offering comments. If you would like to see a full copy of the letter the Chamber sent to the City Council on the topic of proposed plastic bag ban and fee, I’m happy to provide it. Give me a ring at the Chamber: 425-392-7024 and I can fax, mail or email over a copy of the memo. Thanks again for your interest in this issue. -Matt

  4. John West on March 30th, 2012 2:53 pm

    jimu and smokey’s comments were specific. To bad MBOTT wasn’t able to specifically do more than offer to repeat himself, instead of actually replying to the comments that were posted…

  5. Smoley on March 30th, 2012 5:46 pm

    Thanks for the offer to provide the full letter provided by the CoC to the City Council, Matt. Please fwd to ‘holysmoley at’ if you get the chance. I’d love to read it.

    It would seem to me that an ordinance such as this that effectively punishes shoppers in Issaquah *might* make some of them (like me) decide to shop elsewhere, but let me throw out this question – How many people who live in the neighboring areas whose stores aren’t subject to the bag ban do you think will now flock to Issaquah because of this new ordinance? If I were a betting man, I’d wager that no one in their right mind would do this.

    This ordinance will have more of an effect to push shoppers away than to attract them to our area retail stores and this is something that the Issaquah CoC should certainly be concerned with.

  6. Sally on April 1st, 2012 2:54 pm

    I wonder what it would take for our chamber of commerce to take a stand away from the politics they follow. There are good reasons to start banning plastic bags. But then the “I want it my way no matter what” crowd would roar. The CoC is one good reason why Issaquah can not wear any environmental accolades with authenticity.

  7. Issaquah Resident on April 2nd, 2012 3:18 pm

    As a resident of Issaquah, I am really disappointed with comments like Sally’s. It is unfortunate that people do not see the value of analyzing an issue and its complete impact on the community before making a solid decision. I think a perfect case in point is the ‘approval’ of the marijuana dispensary. Before laying blame with the Chamber of Commerce, however, I like to think the City Council deserves some serious “time out.” It seems that the City Council has a “quick to judge,” “shoot from the hip,” sort of approach to a number of hot button issue that really do need analysis and discussion from all community members, business and consumers alike. Finally, Sally, to say that the Chamber of Commerce is partially to blame for a hampered sense of environmental progress, then maybe environmentalists should take a moment to see how their message is actually received by people like myself who support environmental causes.

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