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Snohomish plastic bag ban to come to a council vote Feb. 19

SNOHOMISH — If the City Council adopts a plastic bag ban Feb. 19, city shoppers will likely be using reusable totes or paper grocery sacks by this time next year.
Under the proposed ban, thin polyethylene plastic bags would be eliminated from stores citywide on Jan 1, 2020. Other plastic bags, such as those used to hold meat and produce, for dry cleaning or to deliver newspapers would be exempt.
With the average American using 500 plastic bags per year, the ban could keep half a million bags out of circulation in town, according to Heather Trim of Zero Waste Washington, who spoke in favor of it at a December City Council meeting.
The cost of buying alternatives would definitely be a factor for the Fabulously Frugal Thrift Shop benefitting the Snohomish Senior Center, said an assistant manager, Josh Dring. “That is our prime bag (type), the thing is for us, if we were to switch to paper bags … we go from paying $13 or $14 a box to almost $44 or $45” for 1,000, Dring said.
The city is including some measures common to other bag ban bills to lessen the sting of switching to other types of bags. All retailers that use paper bags would pass along a mandated 10 cent fee per bag to customers to offset the cost. People who bring their own bags can avoid the fees.
Food banks would be exempt from the bag ban, and people using food stamps would be exempt from the 10-cent fee.
At two Snohomish grocery chains, managers said they were not concerned about a ban.
“It won’t be a problem at all. We already have other Haggen stores in Bellingham and Olympia,” that don’t use the thin bags, said
Haggen  guest services manager Jason Norris.
The response was similar at Fred Meyer.
“A few other cities like Bellevue, Seattle and Kirkland have already made a change and it really didn’t cause a whole lot of issues,” said assistant store manager Anel Bezdrob.
While many businesses surveyed agreed, Laura Simmons, an employee at Baker’s Mini Mart at the Texaco on Second Street didn’t.
“I would not like having my plastic bags banned, they’re convenient and I can use them over and over and over again,” Simmons said.
If the ban is enacted, the city would launch an awareness campaign that might include students creating posters, city economic development and communications manager Wendy Poischbeg said.
At the city’s Jan. 22 Economic Development committee meeting, Mayor John Kartak expressed concern that he might need to enforce the new law, which could carry a fine of $250 per day. However, enforcement would be complaint based and organizers have said the focus of the ban would be on education.
“We need to be ready to help where help is needed,” Kartak said.
A bag ordinance has already been enacted in about two dozen other jurisdictions around the state. Everett approved a ban in December which will go into effect this September.
The Snohomish ban started as a grassroots effort of Green Snohomish. It expands on their “Strawless in Snohomish” campaign which began last August.
The City Council meets Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 1601 Ave. D, in the school district administration building. The plastic bag ban is on the agenda for the Feb. 19 meeting.



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