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Mukilteo considers plastic bag ban

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By Katya Yefimova
Herald Writer
MUKILTEO -- Shoppers toting reusable canvas grocery bags have become a common sight here, and folks who are bucking the trend might soon be required to join them.
Mukilteo City Council members have been discussing a potential ban on plastic bags.
City officials got the idea when Edmonds banned plastic bags, said Mukilteo Councilman Tony Tinsley.
"It will do a great deal to keep trash out of the landfills," he said.
City staff are now drafting an ordinance based on that law.
The Edmonds ban has exemptions, including dry-cleaning bags, disposable bags for take-out food and those used in grocery stores for produce and meat. The Mukilteo ban would be similar.
Paper bags would be OK, though the law aims to encourage shoppers to rely on reusable bags, usually made of canvas or thicker plastic.
Mukilteo Councilman Randy Lord said he is glad to see an ordinance in the works.
"I believe the plastic bag ban in Edmonds was a good idea," he said at a council meeting this summer.
The ordinance likely won't come before the City Council until early next year.
The Edmonds law was passed in 2009, but it gave businesses a year to prepare and comply with the changes. By the time the deadline rolled around in August 2010, most businesses were ready, said Steve Fisher, Edmonds' recycling coordinator. Mukilteo is looking to do the same.
Fisher said he has heard from some unhappy shoppers. Overall, though, people have become more accepting of the idea since the law went into effect a year ago.
"People just need a little bit of time to tweak their habits," he said. "It's truly not a stretch for most people."
The Mukilteo Chamber of Commerce is polling its 275 members to see what they think of the idea, said Shannon McCarty, the chamber executive director.
"I don't think we are going to have a lot of adverse reaction to this," she said.
The city might work with the chamber on a publicity campaign to spread the word about the ordinance. One example would be a reusable tote with a Mukilteo logo on it, said Mukilteo Councilwoman Jennifer Gregerson.
Gregerson, Tinsley and council President Richard Emery have discussed the plastic bags ban in what is called the sustainability committee, which looks at ways to protect the environment.
In the year before the law took effect in Edmonds, city officials contacted all the businesses that were going to be affected. They also held a poster contest in local schools, Fisher said. The top three poster designs were unveiled at the arts festival that year.
Reusable grocery bags have become more and more common since Edmonds passed the ban. Bellingham enacted a similar law this summer, and talks are under way in several other cities.
"More people have jumped on that bandwagon," Fisher said. "We are hoping that kind of sticks with folks."

Katya Yefimova: 425-339-3452,
Story tags » EdmondsMukilteoRecyclingWaste

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