Edmonds keeps plastic bag ban proposal alive

EDMONDS — Plastic bags could be banned in Edmonds by early next year, after a vote this week kept alive a proposal seeking to do just that.

A divided City Council voted Tuesday to study the environmental impact of banning single-use plastic bags at all of the city’s retail outlets.

A final vote on the ban could come later this month.

If approved, the ban likely wouldn’t start until early next year, said councilman Strom Peterson, who has led Edmonds’ effort.

“We want to create a smooth transition so that everybody can work together in terms of education,” Peterson said. “We want to get the word out that this is coming, and why it is coming.”

Peterson said he is working with local business owners, grocers’ associations and local food banks to make sure that no organization gets caught with a giant stockpile of bags, and that customers are informed of whatever changes are approved.

Although the bag ban is moving forward, opponents said the issue isn’t yet decided.

“A number of our council members will vote to let the process continue, and they withhold their final approval, or disapproval, until the very end,” said council president D.J. Wilson, who voted against the ban.

Some research shows that plastic bag bans actually increase carbon footprints, Wilson said.

Plastic bags use 70 percent less energy and emit 50 percent less greenhouse gas during production than paper bags, according to the American Chemistry Council.

Statistics like that have led some cities to pursue a bag fee instead of a bag ban.

Voters in Seattle will decide on a bag fee Aug. 18.

San Francisco already has a bag ban and officials are pursuing changes in California state law that would allow the city to create a bag fee, said Mark Westlund, spokesman for San Francisco’s Department of Environment.

A council committee in Edmonds has also considered a bag fee, but it hasn’t been sent to the full council.

If a ban is ultimately approved in Edmonds, it would help the local environment — and the local economy, Peterson said.

“I think the economic effects in a positive way cannot be overlooked,” he said. “This is a way to position Edmonds as a leader in sustainability, and a place where the green economy can really take a foothold in the region.”

Chris Fyall: 425-339-3447, cfyall@heraldnet.com.

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