In a vote Monday night, the council approved an ordinance that will ban most plastic "carryout bags" in the city as of February, 2014.
Following in the footsteps of neighboring cities such as Edmonds and Seattle, Shoreline passed a sweeping plastic carryout ban Monday, which will take effect early next year.
Council members and city staff discussed the ban, citing recommendations by King County Solid Waste to move forward with it, and noting that in community polls most residents and businesses expressed support of the ordinance. But each council member expressed concerns as well, calling it a very tough decision.
"I'm about as split on this as the community," Mayor Keith McGlashan said.
The ordinance includes a mandatory taxable 5-cent "pass-through" fee, designed to encourage residents to bring reusable bags. Retailers are not permitted to absorb that cost for customers.
Some plastic bags will still be legal, such as heavier duty plastic bags, those used to gather bulk items and produce for purchase and dry-cleaning bags. Food banks will be exempt from the regulations, and people using state assistance or WIC to purchase food are exempt from the pass-through fee. Restaurants also are exempt.
Council member Doris McConnell, who voted against the ordinance, said she thought the ban goes too far and expressed concern about increased shoplifting in cities with the ban.
"I think we've been getting a silent revenue stream because we are surrounded by cities that have jumped on this bandwagon," she said. McConnell said she herself shops less in Seattle because of its ban.
Plastic bag bans have been controversial in other cities, such as Issaquah, which passed a similar ordinance last year. There have also been failed statewide efforts to ban plastic carryout bags.
“It’s been amazingly hard, for me to get hold of incontrovertible facts," Deputy Mayor Chris Eggen said, noting the wide disagreements within the scientific community about the effects of specifically plastic bags on the environment.
Ultimately, the ban did pass 5-1, with McConnell's the lone dissenting vote. Council member Shari Winstead was not present.