Bellingham, Washington Bans Bags

Bellingham, Washington Bans Bags

Old Main Building on Western Washington University's Bellingham campus. Attribution: Ericevans15 at en.wikipedia
Grassroots Effort A Success

Back in March, PBBR reported on a grassroots effort, Bag It Bellingham, spearheaded by Brooks Anderson and Jill McIntyre Witt, to get plastic bags banned in Bellingham, Washington.

We are excited to report that their efforts have been successful! On July 11th, the City Council of Bellingham, Washington passed an ordinance banning single-use carryout bags. Bellingham is located in Whatcom County.

Led by City Councilmember Seth Fleetwood, the Council passed the ordinance by a vote of 7-0. This ordinance is the first in Washington State to prohibit single-use plastic carryout bags and require a minimum 5 cents charge for recycled paper take-out bags. Retailers will be allowed to keep the entire fee.

The City of Edmonds, was the first to pass a plastic bag ban ordinance in the state of Washington. However, the ordinance did not require a fee on paper take-out bags.

Bellingham's ban is set to take effect in July, 2012 with the support of two major grocery retailers. Glen Foresman, vice president of retail support for Haggen, Inc. stated, “In keeping with our longstanding commitment to the environment, Haggen has always supported a reduction or ban on single-use plastic bags. We were the first to introduce reusable bags in our marketing area.”

Another grocer, The Markets, actively supported the ban and Sue Cole, Public Affairs Director for the company had this to say: "The Markets actively promote reusable bags and offer rebates for customers who shop with them. Sustainability is a key value for us so we're pleased to support this ordinance. Thanks to Bag It Bellingham and Council Member Seth Fleetwood for their leadership on this issue."

“Bag It Bellingham did a tremendous amount of outreach in the community to show support,” said Seth Fleetwood. “I am thrilled that Bellingham continues to be a recognized leader of sustainability.”

“From all of our work with the residents of Bellingham, we are inspired by the willingness of everyone to embrace this step,” said Brooks Anderson of Bag It Bellingham. “Retailers and the city will reduce their costs. It seems a win-win for the stores, environment and the city.”

Jill MacIntyre Witt, of Bag It Bellingham continued, “It is nice to know that Bellingham is doing their proportionate share towards being part of the solution. We are helping spread the message to the rest of Washington and hope this encourages other cities and the state to pass similar legislation.”

Bag It Bellingham will work with the city and retailers to help educate the public in the next year so that when the bag reduction ordinance takes effect in July 2012, the transition will be smooth.

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