County bans single-use plastic bags

The San Juan County Council approved a county-wide ban on single-use plastic carry-out bags during its regular meeting Oct. 25.

While many major island retailers have already chosen not to use single-use plastic bags, San Juan County Council Member Rick Hughes said, “I just think it sets a good standard for our community in trying to be responsible. We’ll be joining others like Seattle and Whatcom County that have already taken action. Plastic bags tend to be the thing that gets washed into the water the most.”

The ordinance will provide until May 1, 2017, to allow island businesses to use up their current supplies of the banned bags. The ban makes allowances for plastic bags used to contain meat, ice cream and produce. The Town of Friday Harbor is not included in the ban.

“We’re trying to do the right thing without causing any undue burden on local businesses,” said Hughes, prior to the council’s adoption of the ban. “I’m hoping this is a relatively easy solution.”

A statewide single-use plastic bag ban, SB 5432, was introduced in 2015 but has yet to be approved.