County to ban single-use plastic bags in stores

County joins City of Bremerton and City of Bainbridge Island, who also passed similar ordinances

A proposed countywide plan to ban the use of single-use plastic shopping bags by retailers has finally come to fruition after the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed an ordinance Monday night.

Kitsap County now joins local municipalities Bremerton and Bainbridge Island in banning their use. Those cities earlier passed similar ordinances. Port Orchard is also considering an ordinance limiting the use of single-use plastic bags.

The use of plastic bags less than 2.25-mm thick will be banned from all retail stores. Exceptions include plastic bags used for packaging meat, seafood, produce, bulk items, frozen foods, food storage baggies, garbage bags, pet waste bags, yard waste bags, newspapers, tires, flowers, laundry or dry cleaning, and door-hangers.

Plastic bags that are still allowed cannot be green or brown-tinted. Only compostable bags can be tinted green or brown and must be labeled as compostable.

Retailers may provide paper bags made of at least 40-percent recycled paper for a minimum 8-cent pass-through charge that retailers use to offset the cost of providing bags. Low-income customers who qualify for WIC, TANF, SNAP and FAP food assistance programs shall be provided paper bags for free.

Washington residents use more than 2 billion single-use plastic bags each year, county officials said. Kitsap County alone uses 87 million plastic bags annually and only 12 percent are recycled.

Reusable bag giveaways by the Kitsap Solid Waste Division will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday at St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank in Bremerton and at the Kitsap County Fair Aug. 21-25.

The ordinance will go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.