June 12, 2012
Plastic bag ordinance doesn’t go far enough
The City Council has passed a ban on plastic bags used for retail and grocery items, but it hasn’t gone far enough.
We are disappointed that the ban will only apply to stores larger than 7,500 square feet, but not for another year. It won’t be until 2014 that the ban goes into effect for all retailers.
Our other disappointment is that the ordinance has no real teeth for enforcement. It has been more than two years since the city outlawed Styrofoam containers for takeout food, yet some restaurants continue to use them. The city seems unable to enforce its own rules today, let alone a plastic bag ban next year.
We would have liked to see grocers and other large retailers be required to invest at least a portion of the savings they will enjoy into free reusable bags for customers, at least during the early months as consumers make the transition. Signage in parking lots reminding customers to bring their own bags into the store will also be appreciated.
Some argue that businesses will be hurt by the ban as customers turn to nearby towns to shop. Phooey.
Gas costs more than it would be worth to get a free plastic bag. Issaquah has long been a leader in environmental concerns and has good reason to be.
Inside today’s paper is a petition for voters to sign if they want a public vote on the ban. We believe in citizen referendums, but not this one.
Public input was extended for two months to gather more input on the plastic bag legislation — and a large majority of community voices supported the ban. A public vote will only cost the city thousands of dollars.
A follow-up ordinance and more specific staff directives are needed to deal with both enforcement and education on both the takeout container and plastic bag ordinances if the community is expected to get behind the initiatives.