Edmonds Rep. Strom Peterson co-sponsoring statewide reusable bag legislation

Rep. Strom Peterson

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.”


27 Replies to “Edmonds Rep. Strom Peterson co-sponsoring statewide reusable bag legislation”

  1. Reusable bag legislation will bring change that reaches beyond our state. The nation watches as we implement small personal changes that make dramatic differences in the waste cycle. Thank you for taking the lead on this.


  2. Plastic bag bans have been overturned by higher courts. The straw ban really stole some credibility from meanful environment reforms within state and local government perview.

    Why not tax plastic bags and directly apportion the revenue to pay for plastic bag cleanup costs? If the environmental and infrastructural costs of plastic bags are easily demonstrated, make bag users pay those costs.


  3. I would rather go back to having the choice – “Would you like paper or plastic today, Sir?”

    Let me be the one who decides.

    Isn’t America all about choices?


    1. We don’t get to choose what speed we get to drive at, we don’t get to make as much noise as we want at any hour of the night, we don’t get to shoot guns within the city, or have fires when the atmosphere is too polluted. Living in a community means giving up some of the “get to choose” stuff. If the community finds that plastic bags are a problem for the environment, it can – as in so many other areas – decide that no, we don’t get to choose. This is called the social contract. We are not all isolated and independent islands. To live together we learn to give and take some “freedoms.”


      1. I challenge you to never use a plastic bag again. 🙂 Do we have the right to make and sell plastic bags on society?


    2. Yes, we should be able to choose, however, too many are not perhaps as responsible as you. They do not recycle their bags, or just let them blow away when they are at the park, leaving either others to pick it up, or a whale to swallow. Thanks to those who do their job keeping their bags picked up. Sadly, our laws must protect our future in what some seem to think is their right to be negligent.


      1. Ban cats and dogs then. Objectively speaking, comfort animals are the #1 superfluous human activity with the most ecological impact. We live in a society after all.


  4. Bag bans hurt the poor
    Let’s face it, any time an ordinance forces people to spend more money on something, it affects the poor in a more significant manner. But aside from just the cost to go out and purchase a large number of “reusable” bags, the fact is that the poor are more reliant on the convenience of plastic bags than anyone. They take public transportation or walk in much greater numbers. They shop at smaller stores, and buy a few items more often. Are they expected to walk around with handfuls of reusable bags all the time?
    The proponents always try to portray someone putting a bunch of bags in their car (oh yea, we meant Prius…) and driving down to Safeway and buying $100 worth of pre-planned groceries. They don’t think about the poor person on public transportation, or walking on the street picking up a few items at the store on their way home. The poor are the most affected by bag bans.


    1. Interesting. However, we really can’t use income levels and the poor in consideration of this legislation.

      Granted, there are many internet articles out there that suggest the poor are negatively impacted by plastic bag bans. You do make some valid points like having to haul reuseable shopping bags on the bus, etc. Not sure about the expense of these bags.

      The larger picture is we are taught that poor people should not be treated any different than those who are not. We are all equal. Strom Peterson made that abundantly clear in his sponsored and successful legislation that all children – paying or not – get the same cafeteria lunch served to anyone regardless of ability to pay.

      Poor people should not be treated or considered any differently when it comes to reusable bags. Every shopping bag user needs to be treated and respected the exact same. Doing otherwise would be unconscionable.

      I am sure Mr. Peterson would agree.


  5. I ask again, what is the definition of a “single use” plastic bag? The people that I know who pick up plastic bags outside of Edmonds use them over and over. So to define them as single use is a mischaracterization.


    1. It has to do with the Mil thickness of the material. Plastic is plastic, but I see no concern about Latte lids, which are ONLY used one time. Plastic cups for smoothies, only used one time. Where is the outrage over those plastic items, which go straight to the dump, or are thrown around 45th & I-5.

      In a former town, they repaved the streets, put in new side walks and lighting. Something Edmonds can’t seem to afford, when they have the worst sidewalks in the State, but that’s another story.
      Back to the former town, when they brought the road to grade, and rolled the sub-straight (the gravel), it was filled with about 20% crushed “recycled” glass.
      As a citizen who recycles in good faith, you would expect that glass would be reused, sorted by color and remelted for making more glass. No it is thrown in with gravel as fill, also melted and spun for glass insulation, although most of that is done in MX now.
      I was told by engineers on the job, that as long as it gets a “second use”, that is recycling at it’s best.

      Most people reuse even the thin plastic bags. Garbage bags, whatever.

      Maybe Strom should worry about cleaning up the filth along I-5, from all the homeless polluting our Public Property. Visitors to Seattle must just love seeing the filth…. Maybe all the homeless should move to the Capital grounds in Olympia.
      Look around 45th & I-5, anywhere in downtown Seattle, great accomplishments by Olympia. Plenty of plastic bags there, blowing around. How about sweeping the freeway at all, the shoulders are a mess.

      Face it folks, it has nothing to do with bags, it’s just another tax by Olympia. Tax, Tax, Tax. And this is a tax they can force onto everyone, hundreds of times a year.

      Bicycles pay no taxes to ride on the roads, roads paid for by auto tags. Time to make all bike riders obey the laws cars follow, and every bike should have a license, and pay taxes to be on the roads. The socialist agenda is so transparent.


      1. Brent, good points, especially about glass. Centrally planned recycling has been ineffective. There is a huge impending sand shortage because all of the sand we would need for glass, not to mention for the solar panel pipe dream, has been squandered in construction, as you said. There is a global sand shortage. The best things to recycle are metals and glass, but paper and plastics are the emphasis? Glass can easily be reclaimed via redemption systems (which we don’t have), and metals are easily mechanically separated from trash in that they don’t float and are magnetic (even nonferrous aluminum can be separated ). Money allocated for recycling programs should re-directed towards reclaiming metals and glass via automation. One bin to rule them all.


  6. I understand this legislation also calls for a ten cent charge for every paper bag. If so , why?, where does the money go?, and why do we get long press releases about plastics with no mention of paper?


  7. The Virtue Signaling of “banning the plastic bag” sure gives one that warm and smug sanctimonious feeling…

    And the ‘tax’ of a nickel/dime per paper bag…how smug can we get?

    Kinda makes one want some cheese…


    1. “Virtue signaling” is a poison phrase like “fake news” that serves only to de-legitimize the other person’s point of view without actually addressing it. It says that the other person is insincere, has no real point of view, and simply does not need to be listened to or respected. Can we please avoid the phrase, and in stead actually engage with the view we disagree with and refute it, if we can, with real arguments? These two over-worked phrases simply poison the well before anyone even tastes the water.


        1. The straw campaign was based on fake photos, fake data from a child’s science fair.

          Donald’s comment is important because there are legitimate ecological concerns that require government to be a vehicle for meaningful reforms. Land conversion is happening at an alarming rate, modern medicine is about to end due to over-use of antibiotics, dogs and cats are a major environmental concern. Straws? Bags? It’s ruining the credibility of government environmentalism. The truth is, supporting straw bans (now bag bans) is a political version of snake handling, in that it’s virtue signaling that proves you’re a believer in partisan higher-power and will play ball. I sip therefore I sin.


    2. I believe in a bag tax IF the actual damage caused by plastic bags is demonstrated and IF the tax money is directly apportioned to cleaning up the damage. This is what Republican environmentalism looks like. If there is damage, get those who caused it to pay to clean it up.


  8. My mom in law is living in Paris, says they are protesting Carbon Tax day and night. CO2 in the atmosphere is near the lowest it’s ever been in earth’s geological history. Plants love CO2 and the planet needs more plants. The climate will continue to get colder for the next 30 years as the sun output reaches a cycle minima. The biggest issue environmentally is land conversion. Developing nations are clear cutting, and speciation is plummeting as habitats are taken over. Only 25% of the planet is untouched by man, and twice the land should be reserved. Almost half of WA state is a federal reserve, so we already comply with that. However, our food requires land conversion. Dogs eat +30% of our nation’s meat. Cats destroy base animal species for sport. Controlling the boon in superflous pets is all WA can do to address the biggest planetary environmental concern. Not forgetting to mention that dog poop in single use plastic bags accounts for approximately 5% of our landfill mass. What I’m saying is extremely unpopular, and I am betting Strom’s folly will exempt dog poop single use plastic bags.


    1. The well publicized stories about plastic islands in the ocean and sea animals with stomachs full of plastic do make a compelling case, but in almost every case the origin of these plastics are countries in Asia. Plastic bags/straw bans here will have minuscule results, and ignore more important planetary environmental concerns. Both cloth or paper bags are not free rides, coming with their own well documented environmental downsides. The taxation, aka “fees” have more to do with Totalitarian motives, than the virtue of a cleaner environment. Ask the “Yellow Jackets” of France.


  9. I have watched over the last 10 years as the beaches in Thailand have been drastically degraded by plastics.
    The simple solution—– Ban plastic bags, and thermo-setting plastics (the likes of #5 & #7) which are generally only used to make fancy packaging.
    DO NOT- tax paper bags. Want to see a real tragedy, go to Longview and drive over the bridge. Look at the hundreds of thousands of our trees stacked to be exported off-shore. Why not rebuild and industry in the US?? No, concern there from Olympia. There is no shortage of trees, replanting is very effective today.
    Place a 5 cent deposit on all glass bottles and aluminum cans. No impact on the lower income, as along as they recycle they get their money back. When I was a little kid, we were more than happy to ride our bikes and look for bottles.
    Taxing paper bags, is just another tax. No logic in that proposal. The reality is that bags are needed, if people would bring their own bags, great. All for that.
    Strom, ban Latte lids and plastic cups, do something constructive.
    All this legislation is, is just a way to tax a very high volume item, something which has never been taxed. Olympia can never have enough to spend.
    FYI- Strom, when you attached the tax to paper bags, you destroyed any virtue, or logic, in your argument.
    Ban plastic bags, and plastic water bottles, all for it.


    1. Brent, I agree. I think plastic bags are pretty bad too. Disposable food containers are becoming a huge problem in China, for example. That said, bans aren’t the way to go. Tax them and apportion the revenue to cleanup costs. I think dogs are an environmental concern, generally speaking, yet single-use plastic bags are essential for picking up dog poop. Also, some groceries, like raw meats still require plastic bags to prevent contamination. There’s no nuance to bans. I love you POV BTW. Cheers,


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