SEQUIM — The Sequim City Council is considering a ban on some types of plastic bags.
Port Angeles has instituted a ban on single-use plastic bags effective July 2. The Port Townsend City Council restricted single-use plastic bags in 2012.
City Council member Jennifer States, Sequim’s representative on the county Solid Waste Advisory Committee, on May 14 asked other council members to support a letter to Clallam County commissioners to enact an ordinance mirroring Port Angeles’ ban on certain plastic bags in unincorporated Clallam County.
City Manager Charlie Bush said staff members “want clear direction from council on how to proceed.
“We’re encouraging the county to set policy [but] not within city limits,” he said.
The Port Angeles City Council voted 4-3 on April 3 to ban thin plastic carry-out bags prohibiting single-use plastic bags at stores within the city that are less than 2.25 thousandths of an inch. Any plastic bag from a retailer will cost a 5-cent minimum charge, too, starting July 3. Customers on food assistance programs are exempt from the bag fee and businesses can apply for an exemption.
The ordinance appealed to Sequim City Council members and they gave States an unofficial but unanimous OK to vote in favor of recommending a bag ban ordinance to county commissioners. She and other Solid Waste Advisory Committee members with various agencies voted unanimously last Thursday on the recommendation.
Just when Clallam County commissioners will discuss a possible carry-out plastic bag ban has not been set yet, county staff said.
States said the ordinance encourages conservation and reduction while helping prevent micro-plastics from going into water supplies and clogging recycling machinery.
“The ordinance reduces the number of bags in the recycling stream,” she said.
States said unlike other cities with bans, the 5-cent minimum fee for a bag helps retailers recoup costs they wouldn’t have received before.
Sequim City Attorney Kristina Nelson-Gross said the city of Sequim is an independent entity and would be exempt from anything the county commissioners decide on plastic bags.
However, the Sequim City Council might choose to follow Port Angeles’ ordinance.
“It makes sense to me we should consider it too,” Council member Bob Lake said.
“I think if the county adopts it, the city should seriously adopt it as well,” Council member Ted Miller said.
Bush said city staff would plan a work session depending on how Clallam county commissioners’ discussions go. “It probably won’t be for a few months,” he said.
States recommended a member of the Plastic Bag Reduction Coalition or County Commissioner Mark Ozias, chairman of the Solid Waste Advisory Committee, speak to the Sequim City Council about a possible ban.
Contact the city of Sequim at 360-683-4139 or visit www.sequimwa.gov.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].