North Bend considers banning plastic shopping bags; public hearing on new ordinance November 20th

It appears the City of North Bend is considering moving in the direction no plastic bags – like Issaquah and Seattle have in recent years.

At the Tuesday, November 20th city council meeting, the city is holding its first public hearing on a proposed ordinance that would ban plastic carryout shopping bags in North Bend.

According to a public notice of the hearing, the purpose of the new ordinance “is to reduce litter and protect the aquatic environment by encouraging the use of reusable retail bags, as opposed to single-use plastic bags.”

The proposed law would impact all retail establishments within the city limits – not just grocery stores – and if passed would become law on July 1, 2019. Stores would be required to provide recyclable paper bags free of charge to customers in lieu of plastic. Smaller plastic bags used inside stores for vegetables, flowers, meat, etc. would still be allowed.

In its newsletter, the city said, “North Bend citizens alone use 2.5 million plastic bags per year. On average, a plastic bag is used for approximately 20 minutes and then gets tossed into the garbage and, subsequently, into the landfill. These bags take 100 years to decompose and release toxins into the air, which may negatively impact our health.”

Councilmember Martin Volken added, “I believe we have an obligation in our quest to make North Bend a highly livable town, to help protect the environment. I would like to move forward and reduce the impact of plastic on our City and our citizens.”

Kroger, which operates QFC, announced that it will phase out plastic bags at the North Bend location in 2019.

The November 20th public hearing starts at 7PM at the Mt. Si Senior Center, 411 Main Ave. S.  You can see the proposed ordinance HERE.

North Bend Communications Manager Jill Green said this is the first public hearing on the proposed ordinance and there may be a second hearing next month. She said the council could vote on the ordinance by January.

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  • Just so much of today’s “fake news”, gullible public members don’t fact check claims about things like “plastic bags are bad, paper bags are good”. The reality is that the impact of paper bags on our environment and health is much greater that plastic bags. Yet despite this reality, the myth continues to grow without question, fueled by self-proclaimed environmentalists in a manner similar to how Russian trolls fueled political division by way of their fake news posts on both sides…except I like to believe that the environmentalists as doing so out of simple ignorance. Let’s look at some facts about both:
    PAPER BAGS: production, distribution, and even recycling consumes far more dirty energy and petroleum that plastic bags (see the link at the end here for a study of the quantitative difference). From fossil fuel powered seedling nurseries, fossil fuel powered machinery for planting seedlings in often difficult terrain that demands a lot of energy, to the sometimes use of fertilizers nearly all made from fossil fuels, to fossil fuel intensive production forest maintenance, the fossil fuel intensive machinery for cutting, logging, transporting wood to processing (chipping, etc), the water consumption for softening and processing which then needs fossil fuel energy to partially clean to remove dangerous chemicals that are also made from fossil fuels and then the effluent “treated” water piped into nearby waters that affects fish and wildlife, the the fossil fuel energy required to turn the wood pulp into paper that has to then be dried, rolled, and transported to bag manufacturers, then the fossil fuel energy to cut, the chemicals to glue and ink-print bags, the fossil fuels required to ship to distributors, and then after that to retail stores. And, all that before the consumer starts the fossil fuel intensive process to recycle them, which by the way is a much lower percentage of such recycle paper winds back into new bags as compared to plastic.
    PLASTIC BAGS: It goes without saying that plastic bags also require fossil fuel energy and petroleum also to manufacture, but in far less quantity, and that substantially less volume has much less impact on the environment and our health. There’s no fossil fuels required for growing seedlings, planting seedlings, making and applying fertilizer, logging trees, and all of the transportation emissions involved along the way of delivering the feedstock to the factory. In the factory, the energy used is much more efficient for plastic bags, and the final product volume produced per unit of primary “feedstock” material (petroleum vs wood) is much, much greater (notice how thin, yet strong, the plastic bags are as some evidence of that). Shipping costs per bag are much, much less through the distribution channel into retail stores, and back again for recycling. Speaking of recycling, those of use who do recycle should feel good that plastic bags are among the cheapest plastic items for recycling, higher recycler acceptance compared to other plastic items, and less energy intensive.
    ENERGY REQUIRED: A factor to consider is that in addition to fossil fuels used for powering the whole life cycle of bag production is electricity generated from fossil fuels, which in most areas of the USA includes burning dirty coal. The paper and plastic bags we’re talking about do not come from WA manufacturers, they come from dirtier energy places, thus do not benefit from the clean hydropower energy here.

    Let’s not make our environmental problems worse by banning plastic bags, and unwittingly push up use of far dirtier paper bags. This eco myth has been spun up far too long by the forest corporate trolls, and voters need to fight this assault on their health, environment, and wallet (yes, paper bags are more expensive, too). If we ban one, we should ban the other, and force everyone to use reusable cloth (better yet, hemp) bags…something that I predict will not go down well with most of the public not wishing to endure a nanny state move.

    More info:
    Quantitative comparisons of paper vs plastic in energy, fossil fuels, costs, etc:

    1. Hey, don’t blame environmentalists. They recommend neither paper or plastic in favor of your own reusable bag.

  • I would encourage all of you to look into the facts that Stephen Kangas has laid out for you in his comments above. If we truly want to reduce our impact on planet earth, it is important to consider the impact of the full life cycle of the product on the environment. Some seemingly good ideas, when reviewed in detail, prove to not such as a good idea as we originally thought.
    Just because a bunch of folks think that a certain approach is a good idea doesn’t mean it is. Look behind the scenes, and educate yourself on the _real_ pros and cons of such ideas. Only then can we truly make the best decision for our environment.

  • Quite Interesting that I am reading this the day of the meeting; during a holiday week! The meeting would have a decent attendance had the information been with appropriate notification and away from the hoilidays.

    1. Hi Cynthia. There is a second City Council public hearing at 7pm at the Senior Center to continue this discussion of an ordinance to ban plastic bags and I hope you might consider sharing your comments at that time.

  • Living Snoqualmie