Bremerton mulls plastic bag ban

The bags are “one of the most common contaminants that we find,” recycling supervisor Christopher Piercy said.

Plastic single-use grocery store bags may soon be banned in Bremerton, making the city the latest in the state to consider removing what has become the bane of solid waste departments and environmental advocates nationwide.

According to a study from the state’s Department of Ecology, those single-use plastic bags, handed out at nearly every retailer from convenience stores to pet shops, are one of the Top Ten littered items in the state – by weight.

“Which is pretty astounding, since they are very lightweight,” said Christopher Piercy, a solid waste program supervisor with Kitsap County.

An estimated 97 million single-use plastic bags are disposed of each year in Kitsap, Piercy said.

He oversees the county’s recycling program, and he said the bags also wreak havoc in recycling plants.

“It’s one of the most common contaminants that we find,” he said, attributing the phenomenon to what’s called ‘wish-cycling,’ when people recycle things that are non-recyclable, in the hopes that something good will come of it.

“Recycling equipment is spinning screens and turning gears,” he said. “Plastic bags have a tendency to wrap into the equipment,” leading recycling facilities to shut down between two to three times per day, he said. “It’s all hands on deck, and workers use box knives to cut the plastic out.”

On Wednesday, a draft ordinance was set before the Bremerton City Council to bar retailers from handing out the free, single-use plastic bags. It follows a similar ban passed by the Bainbridge City Council in 2012.

If passed, retailers would instead be allowed to offer paper bags, or thicker, reusable plastic bags, with a mandatory five-cent fee.

The draft will be subject to public hearings before being voted on.

A massive public outreach campaign would also be undertaken to inform retailers about the new rules and help consumers get used to bringing their own bags. The campaign might include things like handing out stickers to place on cars as a reminder to “bring a bag,” or it could be advertising on shopping carts.

The measure received support among some council members Wednesday.

“Something has to be done,” said councilor Kevin Gorman. “Do we place our own convenience over the health of our environment?”

Another council member, Pat Sullivan, expressed concern about what she saw as the government dictating to businesses what they can and cannot do. She wondered whether more public education would be sufficient to address the problem.

“Has that been tried, rather than putting through an ordinance like this?” she asked.

The next step for Bremerton will be to revise the draft, if necessary, and to hold public forums.

“I think we’d be wise to have the public have some input on this,” Richard Huddy said.

More in News

Poulsbo Police Blotter April 8-21

Incidents April 8-21 04/08/2019 - 15:21 - Hit and run - 1st… Continue reading

Former North Kitsap Herald editor pens history of Point No Point

The former editor of the North Kitsap Herald, Richard Walker has written… Continue reading

AG Ferguson’s bill to ban 3D-printed guns passes Legislature

The House agreed to the Senate amendment by a vote of 56-40; the measure now heads to Gov. Inslee

Winners and losers ID’d in legislative session

Tobacco age raised, death penalty bill defeated in 2019 legislative session

Agate Dreams introduces online cannabis ordering and pickup service

The Suquamish cannabis retailer became the first in North Kitsap to offer such a service

Port Orchard’s wayfaring welcome sign debuts

New signage is part of city’s Tremont Street widening project

Registration now open for Hammer it Home Softball Tournament

Teams can be formed from different builder and associate businesses

Manette Park reopens

The City of Bremerton Parks & Recreation Department held a grand reopening… Continue reading

State and county health officials say Dyes Inlet pollution is not a new problem

Dyes Inlet facing possible commercial shellfish harvest restrictions due to high levels of bacteria

Most Read