North Bend council approves ban on plastic bags at retail; promotes recycling

North Bend City Council has prohibited plastic bags in retail stores beginning on Jan. 1, 2019.

The North Bend City Council has passed an ordinance prohibiting the use of “carryout” plastic bags in retail stores beginning on Jan. 1, 2019, with a six month delay to allow businesses to use up their existing plastic bag supply.

The ordinance implements a ban on disposable plastic carryout bags, requiring recyclable bags as a replacement. However, various uses are exempt from the prohibition. Exemptions include use for transportation of take-out food, newspaper bags, garbage bags, grocery bags used for frozen food, pet and yard waste, bags for bulk items, and bags for flowers.

In an amendment to the ordinance, retailers may impose of fee of up to 5 cents per paper bag. However retailers cannot collect a charge on paper bags from customers on voucher or assistance programs.

During public comment, a majority of the citizens who spoke were in support of the ordinance. The city council also heard a presentation from Russell Joe, relationship manager for recycling and waste services company Republic Services, who spoke to the process of recycling and how plastic bags fit into the process. Republic Services provides recycling service to the city of North Bend.

Degradation and effect on the environment was discussed. Many of the councilmembers were in favor of the ordinance.

Councilmember Johnathan Rosen was supportive of the effort to make better environmental choices but felt that the ordinance would not be effecting the problem in the most efficient way. He said finding a way to properly dispose of and recycle the single-use plastic bags would be more effective at addressing the problem. He also said behaviors could be changed through education rather than legislation.

Councilmember Alan Gothelf, agreed with many of Rosen’s points, and said he felt the change should be something enacted on a state level where it would make more impact.

Because plastic bags can be recycled in their own separate process, Rosen and Gothelf wanted the city to look into that process as well.

Others, such as councilmember Trevor Kostanich, disagreed saying just because this is a bigger issue elsewhere doesn’t mean that nothing should be done.

The ordinance was approved by a 4-2 voted with councilmembers Johnathan Rosen and Alan Gothelf dissenting. Councilmember Ross Loudenback was absent. The ban will take effect on Jan. 1, 2019.

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