Thurston County eyes plan to curb plastic bags

Staff writerMay 11, 2013 

Thurston County is seeking residents and businesses to help draft language for an ordinance to reduce the estimated 90 million plastic shopping bags used countywide each year.

The deadline for signing up for the stakeholders group is June 10.

Since December 2011, Thurston County Solid Waste staff members have worked with the community to explore ways to reduce the use of plastic bags. A report proposing a plastic bag ban and seeking recommendations from each city and town in the county was approved last year by the Thurston County Solid Waste Advisory Committee, which is made up of city, citizen, and industry representatives.

The Olympia, Tumwater, Tenino and Bucoda councils supported the drafting of a plastic bag ban ordinance. Yelm recommended a countywide vote. Lacey recommended a draft ordinance, but also a countywide vote. Rainier recommended that plastic bag manufacturers, not consumers, be charged a fee on paper bags in lieu of plastic bags.

The Thurston County Commissioners reviewed the information and directed staff to form the stakeholders group to develop an ordinance. Once completed, it will be provided to each jurisdiction in Thurston County for their consideration and possible adoption.

The goal is to have a consistent approach to reducing plastic bag use across the county instead of a patchwork of varying regulations, noted Terri Thomas, education and outreach specialist for the county’s Solid Waste Division. Each jurisdiction would need to go through its individual ordinance adoption process, which would include a public hearing.

Seven cities in the state have enacted plastic bag bans.

To sign up for the stakeholders group, visit www.ThurstonSolidWaste.org/plastics. The web page also includes links to the full report, the 2012 survey results, and information about the impact plastic has on our environment, and how to sign up for email updates on this and other projects.

For more information, contact Thomas at 360-867-2279 or thomaste@co.thurston.wa.us.

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