In less than one month the City of Issaquah begins a ban on the use of light-weight plastic bags at grocery and retail stores. It’s an effort the city hopes will reduce pollution and waste associated with those little plastic bags – as well as encourage a shift with shoppers to reusable shopping bags.
Issaquah passed an ordinance banning plastic bags in June 2012, six months after Seattle passed a similar law. The new law is in effect for all Issaquah retail establishments, delis, grocery stores, hardware stores, clothing stores.
Starting March 1, 2013, if you’re heading to Issaquah to do some shopping, here’s what you need to know:
- The ban happens in stages, March 1, 2013 for retailers over 7,500 square feet; March 1, 2014 for remaining retailers
- Retailers will charge shoppers 5 cents for each large paper bag; no charge for small (less than 882 cubic inches) paper bags
- In-store plastic bags for meat, produce, flowers, seafood, bulk items, etc ARE exempt
- Plastic bags for newspapers, dry cleaning and take-out food ARE exempt
- The ordinance provides reusable bags for low-income families
The City of Issaquah estimates 6-8 million plastic bags are used in its city each year and only 14% are recovered and recycled. Plastic bag education and recycling efforts have had little impact and the bags contribute to both land and marine pollution.
According to FAQ from a City of Issaquah flier about the new law, large brown bags are an alternative, but cost more and also use more energy and emit more greenhouse gasses to produce and transport.
The City of Issaquah determined that “using durable, reusable bags on a regular basis has the greatest environmental benefit.”
For more information and/or details on Issaquah’s plastic bag ban ordinance visit www.ci.issaquah.wa.us/bags
And yes, I’m trying hard to remember the reusable bags each time I head to the grocery store – even though Snoqualmie Valley stores don’t charge for paper bags. I’m just tired off all those plastic ones. My hint? Keep the reusable bags in your car.