Add Poulsbo to the list of cities considering a plastic bag ban.
The city council discussed a draft ordinance on Kitsap County’s proposal to ban single-use plastic bags during a Wednesday, Oct. 3 meeting. The goal of the discussion, county officials said, was to develop a consensus on policy.
Christopher Piercy, program supervisor for Kitsap County Public Works Solid Waste Division, briefly outlined the county’s plans for proposing the ban and also fielded the council’s questions.
“We’re not talking about the thicker plastic bags you get at a boutique shop or a department store, but more or less the ultra-thin — what we call T-shirt bags,” Piercy said. “These bags produce a lot of problematic characteristics throughout a multitude of different areas.”
Single-use plastic bags are a heavily littered item, Piercy said, noting Kitsap County’s proximity to the water.
“There’s marine life that are constantly being found in necropsies — they’re finding these materials in marine life. Being a coastal community like we are, we feel that this is an important initiative to take on.”
In addition to banning the free, single-use plastic bags, the draft ordinance also allows for retailers to provide recycled paper or thicker plastic resin bags to customers for which they would collect a minimum, five-cent “pass-through” charge. The ban, Piercy said, is similar to one passed by the Bainbridge Island City Council in 2012, with the exception that the county’s ban contains stipulations regarding color-coding compostable bags.
Councilor David Musgrove said a plastic bag ban could become a “very contentious issue.” In addressing his question to Piercy, Musgrove inquired as to whether KCPW expected push back from the public.
“Based on the feedback we’ve gotten so far, I’m certain that there will be some that do not like not having the plastic bags anymore,” Piercy said. ”I will say that coming from my line of business obviously there is a very clear-cut choice that is the optimal. That would be reusables.”
Piercy’s response prompted Musgrove to inquire if the status quo was preferable to the unknown issues posed by a potential bag ban.
“Is it better to leave well enough alone and keep the problems that we have, that are well-scoped by the preference of the consumer, or do you think that it’s wise to push a particular position and add a fee to it?” Musgrove asked. “Is that coming through your research as being a viable direction to go?”
“Ultimately yes, because the behavior change that we want is to go to reusable [bags],” Piercy said. “That is sort of the light at the end of the tunnel. Research has shown and ordinances that are similar all throughout the world have shown this is the gateway to changing that behavior to a more-reusable utilization.”
Musgrove was careful to point out at the meeting that the Public Works Committee will be discussing the county’s draft ordinance for a possible bag ban at the committee’s next meeting on Oct. 10 at 5 p.m.
—Nick Twietmeyer is a reporter with Kitsap News Group. Nick can be reached at email@example.com