Mercer Island Bag Ban Starts Earth Day

Mercer Island Bag Ban Starts Earth Day

Mercer Island, Washington, April 2, 2014 (PBBR) - Mercer Island, WA, located in King County, passed a plastic bag ban late last year which will take effect on Earth Day, April 22, 2014. There are now 13 jurisdictions in the State of Washington with plastic bag regulations.

The ordinance will affect all retailers, not just grocery stores. Only single-use, thin-film plastic bags, less than 2.25 mils, will be banned, including plastic bags that are biodegradable or compostable. Thicker plastic bags, over 2.25 mils, will still be allowed. Standard paper bags will still be allowed and there will be no pass-through charge for paper bags.

However, merchants will be allowed to make their own choice as to how to handle paper bags. Under the new law, retailers may charge for paper bags or absorb the increased cost. Paper bags cost the retailer on average four to five times the cost of a plastic bag. Typically, when plastic bags are banned in a jurisdiction and no fee is placed on paper bags, consumers simply switch to paper.

This switch dramatically increases the retailer's cost of doing business. Merchants in the city of Edmonds experienced this rise in cost when the City Council banned plastic bags but did not place a fee on paper bags. A charge for paper bags will offset that higher cost.

Restaurants are included in the ordinance. Restaurants are allowed to use plastic bags for 'prepared foods and prepared liquids' in order to contain leaks or spills. General merchandise sales at restaurants, such as memorabilia or cookbooks, cannot be placed into plastic bags.

Mercer Island sits in Lake Washington and is seven miles from Seattle. According to, Mercer Island is the most populated island in a lake within the United States with a population of approximately 22,700.


Cover photo: Mercer Island. Author: Dcoetzee. Public domain. Photo was made looking east from Seattle. Seward Park is the forested peninsula jutting into Lake Washington. Mercer Island is the large island in the middle.