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Plastic bag ban to be discussed by council

The Bainbridge City Council will begin discussion Wednesday on a draft of a city ordinance that would effectively ban all one-time-use plastic bags.

"The goal is to eliminate specifically the use of the 'single-use plastic bag' because these bags are so prevalent," said Council Member Kirsten Hytopoulos. "I am bringing forward an ordinance almost identical to Seattle because it has been thoroughly vetted by that city's legal department and their community and retailers and as such, we aren't trying to reinvent the wheel."

Hytopoulos has previously noted the environmental concerns surrounding plastic bags, many of which end up in the waters and on the shores of Puget Sound. The bags in question are 2.25 millimeters thick or less and are currently available at Safeway and the Town & Country Market, or any other stores on the island that provide carryout bags for purchased items.

In addition to the ban on plastic bags, the ordinance requires a "pass-through charge" of no more than 5 cents on the recyclable paper bags also available at retail stores. A pass-through charge is something stores such as Town & Country Market would like to see in such a ban according to Tony D'Onofrio, sustainability director for Town & Country.

"We supported the Seattle bag ban and if (Bainbridge Island's) is anything like that we would support it," D'Onofrio said. "Generally we'd like to see something other than plastic bags used because of the pollution problem. We support any environmental stewardship initiatives and this would be one of them."

The store in Ballard is the only other Town & Country Market brand that will be affected by a plastic bag ban when Seattle's ban goes into effect in July. According to D'Onofrio, they do not expect any complications with the transition.

If council passes the ban, there will be an implementation period that has yet to be determined to allow for retailers to transition to an island without plastic bags.

"Some folks seem to want to dwell on the fact that this is just one small fraction of the plastic in our lives…" Hytopoulos said. "But the goal of this type of ordinance is as much about educating the public and changing broader behavior as it is about eliminating the specific impacts of the single use plastic bag. The state cannot prohibit plastic on anywhere near the scale it should be eliminated, and so it is up to individuals to start making choices on products and packaging."

 

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