Issaquah starts 30-day countdown to plastic bag ban
January 31, 2013
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.