State Rep. Strom Peterson of Edmonds (D-21st District) and Sen. Kevin Ranker of Orcas Island announced Wednesday they are introducing companion bills during the January 2019 session of the state legislature to address plastic pollution and recycling contamination due to plastic bags.
Called the reusable bag bill, the legislation will build off the existing 23 local ordinances already in place in Washington, including Edmonds.
As an Edmonds City Councilmember, Peterson in 2009 championed the state’s first plastic bag ban ordinance in Washington.
“The problem of plastic bags has only gotten worse since then,” Peterson said. “They are causing a major contamination problem in our recycling and compost streams.”
Ranker noted that there are “more than 86 million metric tons of plastic in our oceans and the equivalent of five grocery bags of plastic trash for every foot of coastline spills into the oceans annually. We must lead with bold progressive action to stop plastic waste from ending up in our oceans.”
The measure is also being supported by the Northwest Grocery Association, which represents larger retail grocery stores in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
“In our experience, our customers support reducing plastic bags,” said Sara Osborne, public affairs director for Safeway and Albertsons. “In our bag ban jurisdictions, customers adapted quickly to using their own bags and understand the reasoning to do so.”
Heather Trim, executive director of Zero Waste Washington, said that the average American uses about 500 bags per year. “Reducing carryout plastic bags will make a big difference,” she said. “The time for action is now.”