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.
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.