Plastic bag ban in Snohomish arrives on New Year’s Day

Retailers can no longer hand out them out and must have paper bags for customers at a dime apiece.

SNOHOMISH — Plastic bags will be banned in many corners of Snohomish starting New Year’s Day.

And retailers can be fined if they don’t comply with the city’s prohibition.

The Snohomish City Council passed an ordinance in February aimed at ending the practice of packing customer purchases in plastic bags in many stores. Since then, businesses have been allowed to hand out plastic bags without consequences to get rid of their stock.

Starting Wednesday , shoppers will need to have their own bag or, if they need one, be prepared to buy a paper one for 10 cents each. Grocery store shoppers who receive food assistance won’t be charged for paper bags.

The new law only applies to bags given out at the register, and not those used for meat, produce, and bulk foods, as well as newspapers and dry cleaning.

“We really want people to bring their own bags to discourage the use of any plastic,” said Wendy Poischbeg, the city’s economic development director.

Retailers who don’t comply will first get a warning. After that, they could be fined $250 for each violation.

Money from the sale of paper bags stays with the retailer, not the city or state. That way businesses can use the income to purchase the more expensive materials, Poischbeg said.

“The general consensus we’ve received is that people are very happy about it,” she said. “They think it’s a great first step.”

There are no plans to ban other single-use items in the city, such as straws or food containers.

The new rules only apply to retailers inside city boundaries.

Snohomish joins dozens of other cities with similar plastic bag bans.

Edmonds was the first in Washington to pass this kind of law, more than a decade ago. About a year ago, the city also banned single-use, non-compostable food containers. Everett banned plastic bags around the same time.

Stephanie Davey: 425-339-3192; sdavey@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @stephrdavey.

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