Edmonds bag ban proceeds unfazed

EDMONDS — When it comes to plastic bag bans, Edmonds sings its own tune.

After all, it was the first Washington city to approve a ban of plastic checkout bags from all retail stores just last month. That ban is expected to start in August 2010.

So, while Seattle voters last week rejected a fee on plastic bags, Edmonds city leaders say they aren’t persuaded to change their ban, and even opponents say they don’t plan to challenge it.

The hubbub over bag bans even has influenced a Mukilteo City Councilman to raise the issue there.

Edmonds and Seattle each approached the plastic bag issue differently. Edmonds passed a complete ban on the bags from grocery stores and other retail businesses while Seattle planned to add a 20-cent charge for every bag, plastic or paper, provided at checkout counters.

“We felt it was better to just go the route we took,” said Edmonds City Councilman Strom Peterson, who led the push to ban plastic bags. “I think we did the right thing.”

Councilman Ron Wambolt, the lone no vote on the bag ban, said he doubts what Seattle voters did will be cause political fallout in Edmonds.

“I fully support reducing the use of these plastic bags, I just don’t want government involved in it,” he said.

If the vote on the Edmonds City Council had been closer, he said, “I might come back and say ‘maybe we should reconsider this and lift our ban.’ ”

Opponents of Edmonds’ bag ban included the American Chemistry Council’s lobbying arm, the Progressive Bag Affiliates, which funded the effort to overturn Seattle’s bag fee.

Shari Jackson, the group’s director, said her organization lobbied Edmonds council members.

“We seek to offer a more positive alternative in terms of encouraging people to recycle,” she said. “Plastics can be made into other products.”

Peterson said when officials showed Jackson’s organization “all the supporting documentation, they didn’t challenge it. We think we wrote some very good legislation.”

Peterson and Wambolt said they met with representatives from the Northwest Grocer’s Association and worked out an agreement to limit the ban to check-out bags.

“We very seriously took into account food safety issues, so when it comes to produce and bulk foods and meats, we wanted to make sure food safety was the priority,” Peterson said.

Edmonds’ only independent grocer, Petosa’s Family Grocer, stopped offering plastic bags on its own last year, said owner Betty Jo Petosa.

Still, she opposed the ban.

“I was never in favor of charging anybody for a bag,” she said. “I actually reward my customers who reuse a bag or bring their own bag in with a 5-cent reward.”

She said with “at least 40 percent” of customers bringing their own bags to the store, she figures Petosa’s pretty much breaks even on its bag expenses.

Mukilteo City Councilman Tony Tinsley brought up the issue of a bag ban in his city during an Aug. 3 council meeting. He’s asked city staff to look into the issue.

“What I would favor would be a ban rather than a fee,” Tinsley said. “To be honest, I wasn’t thinking about it as a tax.”

He said he doesn’t think fees are effective in changing behavior.

“The idea really isn’t to stick it to shoppers,” he said. “The idea is to reduce an environmental hazard, so I think a ban would be much more effective at doing that.”

Oscar Halpert: 425-339-3429,ohalpert@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
‘White saviorhood’: Mukilteo schools end ‘Mockingbird’ requirement

The book is not banned in the school district. The last book brought before the school board was by Maya Angelou.

Jesse Spitzer (Snohomish County Sheriff's Office)
Wanted man fled from Gold Bar to Idaho, police say

Jesse Spitzer, 30, who has a history of violence against officers, is wanted for felonies in two states.

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112
Guv will testify; a dinosaur is revived; GOP is resurgent

Here’s what’s happening on Day 17 of the 2022 session of the Washington Legislature.

Police looking for Mukilteo bank robber, seeking tips

The man appeared to be in his late 20s or early 30s, white, slender, about 5-foot-8, with dark blond hair.

Police: Marysville Pilchuck student arrested for wielding knife

Neither of the students involved in the Wednesday morning fight was injured, police reported.

Registered nurse Estella Wilmarth tends to a patient in the acute care unit of Harborview Medical Center, Friday, Jan. 14, 2022, in Seattle. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is deploying 100 members of the state National Guard to hospitals across the state amid staff shortages due to an omicron-fueled spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations. Inslee announced Thursday that teams will be deployed to assist four overcrowded emergency departments at hospitals in Everett, Yakima, Wenatchee and Spokane, and that testing teams will be based at hospitals in Olympia, Richland, Seattle and Tacoma. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Past the omicron peak? Snohomish County’s COVID cases declining

Hospitalizations are still a concern, however, and infections in Eastern Washington and Idaho could have ripple effects here.

A map of city council districts and districting commission nominees put forth by the Everett City Council and mayor. (City of Everett)
Everett council, mayor pick districting commission nominees

Only one returns from the previous commission, while another is a former city council member.

Funko mascots Freddy Funko roll past on a conveyor belt in the Pop! Factory of the company's new flagship store on Aug. 18, 2017.  (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Despite Arizona move, Everett leaders expect Funko HQ to stay

The toymaker is closing Everett warehouses. But a recent “HQ2” expansion has the city confident Funko will remain rooted here.

Lynnwood Public Works employees on the snow plow crew sit in front of one of the city's two plows that will be named based on results of an online public vote. (City of Lynnwood)
Lynnwood snow plow names: Snowbi Wan Kenobi, Plowy McPlowface

They got the two highest votes in an online public survey by Lynnwood Public Works.

Most Read