Tribes ban single-use plastic bags

Similar proposal in state Legislature


Last updated 1/22/2020 at 9:31am

The Colville Tribes have banned single-use plastic bags from stores on the reservation, and the state is looking at doing the same.

A resolution passed by the Colville Business Council went into effect Jan. 1 that bans single-use plastic bags from stores within the boundaries of the Colville Reservation, the Tribal Tribune reported Jan. 10.

The state of Washington is considering enacting a similar ban, with the state Senate passing a bill last week. The Senate had also passed Senate Bill 5323 last year, but it died in the House of Representatives (See related article.)

That bill needs to pass the House and be signed by the governor before it could take effect.

A poll by the Northwest Progressive Institute found that 69% of Washingtonians felt that single use plastic bags should be prohibited, 26% were opposed to the idea, and 6% were unsure.

In eastern and central Washington, 53% of polltakers supported the ban.

An online survey conducted by The Star received 55 answers with 36 (65.45%) saying they supported the ban, and 19 (34.55%) saying they didn’t.

Those against the ban argue that the bags are recyclable and often get reused, and also question the legitimacy of banning the bags for environmental reasons, a key reason used in the argument for banning them.

“Many places that have looked at banning these have found that scientific studies don’t support [such a] ban …,” one respondent wrote. “I would need more science and not emotional stories to support such a ban.”

“It’s environmentalist hysteria that suggests we should ban them,” another wrote. “They are useful beyond a trip to the store and economically cheap to produce. Banning them would relegate our choice to paper (also not environmentally friendly!) or bring-your-own totes, which are only useful if you make a habit of packing them around in sufficient quantity.”

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Another respondent who is against banning plastic bags, does support the idea of banning plastic bottles and packaging.

An article shared by a reader on The Star’s Facebook page, says that production of reusable cotton grocery bags and paper bags cause more pollution in the end than plastic bags.

That article cites a United Kingdom Environment Agency study that found cotton reusable bags “have about 173 times as much ‘global warming potential’” as plastic bags and ”generate 300 times as much water pollution.”

But another reader cited an article from Stanford Magazine with other information. “Americans use some 100 billion plastic bags each year,” the 2009 piece states, citing data from the Environmental Protection Agency. “Recycling all of them would annually save 10 million barrels of oil.”

Ban supporters responding to the Star’s poll cited environmental reasons, such as protecting the planet and animal life, as key reasons for the ban.

“Time to start preserving our earth, there is already so much trash all over,” one respondent wrote. “We have multiple bags in our home that we bring to the store so we don’t have to use the plastic bags. If they want those bags or the paper bags, start charging for them like they do in Oregon.”

Bethany Payne Byington commented on The Star’s Facebook post that she was willing to adjust to make a difference.

“They are a big problem in our oceans and to animals, so I say yes - of course,” she said. “That comes at a big inconvenience to me but I can adjust. ;)

“Having a big family, we do a LOT of grocery shopping so I’d have to haul a ton of those reusable bags around with me and spend a bit to get a good supply built up ... but again it’s needed and I’d adjust.”


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