Issaquah starts 30-day countdown to plastic bag ban

January 31, 2013

By Staff

NEW — 10 a.m. Jan. 31, 2013

The citywide ban on most retail plastic bags starts March 1, and Issaquah leaders reminded residents to prepare in the 30 days before the legislation goes into effect.

The measure also sets a 5-cent fee for most paper carryout bags. Under the ordinance, retailers keep the fee to offset the cost to phase out plastic bags and shoppers can see the expense itemized on receipts.

Though the ordinance requires most plastic bags to disappear from retailers in March, consumers should not expect to see the bags vanish altogether.

The legislation contains exemptions for plastic bags 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. Businesses can apply for temporary waivers from the ordinance.

The plastic bag ban goes into effect in March for retailers of 7,500 square feet — or a little larger than Blakely Hall in the Issaquah Highlands — or more. The measure does not go into effect for smaller businesses until March 1, 2014.

The city is supporting the change by providing reusable bags to low-income households and other community members. Starting Feb. 25, shoppers can pick up a free reusable bag while supplies last at the CleanScapes store, 317 N.W. Gilman Blvd.

The effort also includes education and outreach for consumers. The city set up a website to offer more information about the plastic bag ordinance.

In June 2012, Issaquah joined a string of cities along Puget Sound to outlaw plastic bags at local retailers. Concerns about the environment led the City Council to decide 5-2 to eliminate most retail uses for plastic bags.

The plastic bag ban sponsor, then-Councilman Mark Mullet, presented the legislation as a way to reduce the estimated 10 million plastic bags the city sends to the King County landfill each year.

The plastic bag ban is similar to ordinances in Seattle, Bainbridge Island, Bellingham, Edmonds and Mukilteo. Issaquah is the only Eastside city — and the only municipality inland from Puget Sound — to enact such legislation.

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6 Responses to “Issaquah starts 30-day countdown to plastic bag ban”

  1. Smoley on January 31st, 2013 12:37 pm

    >>Issaquah is the only Eastside city — and the only municipality inland from Puget Sound — to enact such legislation.<<

    And that's why it's going to be much easier for me to shop in Klahanie, Factoria, Bellevue, or Sammamish instead of sending my sales tax dollars to the city in which I live.

    With our city council's grand urban vision of wanting to build high-rises and greatly increase our population density, what do you think that's going to do to the King County landfill, eh Mr. Mullet?

    Wake up, Issaquah. Plastic shopping bags are the *least* of your problems. Keep a close eye on your city council. They're supposed to be working for you, not against you.

  2. Phil Saffel on January 31st, 2013 2:33 pm

    This may be a politically “feel good” exercise, but there certainly should be more important, and meaningful, things on the City Council’s agenda. Perhaps a ramped up re-cycling program on plastic bags would have been equally effective. Why no ban fast food wrappers? Didn’t want to take on McDonald’s and Burger King?

    I’m sure the merchants are pleased to now charge .05 cents a bag, for paper sacks, when previously they provided them at no charge to customers. It’s another win-win for the consumer.

    Another misguided political act, with no meaningful,positive consequences

    Way to go!

  3. jimu on January 31st, 2013 7:34 pm

    The newly created Economic Vitality Commission sent out a questionnaire to businesses asking what the City could do to improve business conditions. Guess what was near the top of the list? The plastic bag ban.

    Will the City Council now repeal this useless ban that focuses on 0.6% of the pollution problem? Will they at least put some sort of metrics in the law so that we can actually have a way of measuring whether it’s working or not?

    What exactly is the goal in regards to this legislation? How do we know if it’s successful?

  4. elfstar on February 13th, 2013 2:24 pm

    The stores will be REQUIRED to collect 5 cents per bag. They are not allow to comp this fee even if they wanted to. What’s up with that?

    It appears that the City of Issaquah would prefer residents to shop in other cities. And this is at a time when the economy is just starting to pickup, commercial space is starting to be leased.

    Does Issaquah want to be “just like Seattle”. I hope not. I like the quaint small town feel.

  5. BBaker on March 6th, 2013 11:06 am

    The Issaquah city council is marching happily to the drum of Agenda 21 .. (coming soon to small municipalities near you) … this effort is a drop of water in the ocean in terms of resolving the pollution problem,.. more importantly, it’s the first steps toward local govenment presuming to limit and dictate what we as individuals can do in our daily lives,…next stop… Only 16 oz Softdrinks?

  6. CK Snoqualmie Pass on March 15th, 2013 6:23 pm

    I just found out about the bag ban today after spending two hours apparently wasting my time wandering Home Depot picking out a shopping basket full of items to complete a project. Your outreach didn’t reach me or anyone I know. My family spends thousands and thousands of dollars in Issaquah every year. I do most of my shopping and all my Christmas shopping in Issaquah. We knew Seattle didn’t want our business so we haven’t gone for about 5 years. Now Issaquah has joined the nanny state so sorry Issaquah businesses. I loved shopping there, eating lunch there and puttering around town looking for gifts but I will not have my money and tax dollars go to any business in any city that tells me I must spend more money on a bag to carry out the things I have already spent so much money to buy. I usually have my own bag anyway and I will take it and my business to any other city. I will spend more time and more on gas to go to Costco in Southcenter or Kirkland. You can keep your bag ban.

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