Port Orchard continues to study plastic-bag ban

City’s review following in Kitsap County’s footsteps

PORT ORCHARD — The Port Orchard City Council continued its due diligence June 18 with a discussion on implementing a reduction in the use of single-use plastic bags in the city that is unified with similar legislation proposed by Kitsap County.

Council members met on June 18 for a work study session, where the topic was one of the agenda items under discussion.

One year ago on May 29, the Port Orchard City Council conducted a town hall meeting in which residents were given the chance to voice their opinions on a proposed plastic-bag ban. Chris Piercy, the recycling coordinator for Kitsap County’s solid-waste division, told the attendees that 85 million plastic bags are disposed of each year in the county. Piercy said just one-half of one percent of that number are recycled here.

Bainbridge Island enacted a plastic-bag ban in 2012, as has nearby cities such as Port Angeles and Friday Harbor.

Earlier this year, legislation to ban single-use plastic bags failed to gain traction in the state Legislature.

City lobbyist Josh Weiss, who is vice president of Gordon Thomas Honeywell Governmental Affairs, told council members that he believed the plastic-bag legislation didn’t pass for a couple of reasons.

“I don’t know for sure why the bill didn’t move forward, but my sense is that it was because of … some concern in the Democratic caucus about the other taxes they were already committed to adopting and opposition to the paper-bag fee in the bill, and … prioritization for the plastic packaging bill that was passed [SB 5397],” Weiss said.

“I do know that Rep. Peterson, who sponsored the plastic bag ban bill, is an effective and determined legislator, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is able to get the bill through next year. Ensuring that Port Orchard’s approach is consistent with HB 1205 makes sense to me.”

The City of Bremerton adopted an ordinance June 5 that regulates the distribution of single-use plastic and biodegradable carryout bags. The City Council there passed the ordinance by a 5-1 margin.

Kitsap County’s Board of Commissioners has drafted an ordinance that prohibits retail establishments within unincorporated Kitsap County from providing customers single-use plastic carryout bags. The commissioners defined in the ordinance what constitutes a carryout bag, as well as a definition for a compostable bag.

According to the draft regulations, establishments would not be allowed to provide customers at the point of sale with a paper bag or reusable carryout bag made of film plastic not meeting recycled content requirements. For each recycled paper carryout bag provided a customer, the retail store must collect a charge of not less than 8 cents.

The proposed ordinance would be put into place by Jan. 1, 2020. It also encourages cities in Kitsap County to implement a similar policy or ordinance and directs the county’s Department of Public Works to provide public outreach and implement an education campaign prior to the effective date of the ordinance.