City of Kent on mission to let people know about plastic bag ban

Starts March 1

Bags, bags go away.

Single-use plastic bags that is. City staff has come up with plan to let residents and retailers know that Kent’s ban against distribution of carryout plastic bags at retail outlets starts March 1.

The City Council approved the ban in August because plastic bags do not biodegrade and can take hundreds of years to break down into small toxic particles, which can seep into the soil, waterways, lakes and bays and pose a threat to animal life and the natural food chain. Thirty-seven jurisdictions in the state ban the bags. But other plastic bags will remain.

“The idea that the plastic bag is completely disappearing isn’t true,” said Tony Donati, city Public Works conservation coordinator, during a presentation Jan. 7 at a council workshop.

Donati said that there will still be flimsy plastic bags at produce stands, for bulk items, at dry cleaners, at restaurant and food takeout and for prescriptions. Food storage and garbage bags still will be sold.

The single-use bags customers now receive will go away. Instead, customers can pay 8 cents for paper or thick plastic bags at checkout or bring a reusable bag. Customers will not be charged for carryout bags if they use a voucher or electronic benefits card issued under food assistance programs.

“The city does not collect the 8 cents,” Donati said when asked by Councilmember Zandria Michaud to explain where the fee goes. “It goes back to the retailer to help them offset the purchase of the bags.”

Residents can pick up a free reusable bag at city outreach tables on certain dates over the next six weeks at local grocery stores or get one from the customer service desk at the Centennial Center, 400 W. Gowe St., next to City Hall, while supplies last. The bags come in four styles and are made of 60 to 100 percent recycled plastic bottles.

“The idea is to interact with people and educate them on the upcoming ordinance,” Donati said about the store visits. “We want to find out how they remember to bring their bags to the store. We will hand out a bag to them.”

The city spent about $15,000 for its outreach program, mostly to purchase bags. Kent paid $10,175 for 5,000 box-type bags with two different graphics (2,500 of each) from Bulletin Brands in Scarborough, Maine, Donati said in an email. The city paid another $4,196 to the same company for 1,500 black collapsible bags.

“The remainder amount (from $15,000) will be spent on translating our message in several different languages,” said Donati, including Spanish, Vietnamese and Russian.

Kent sent out a fact sheet to 443 retailers to let them know about the ban and contacted the Kent Chamber of Commerce and Kent Downtown Partnership to help spread the message. The city has information on its website that explains the ban.

Councilmember Les Thomas asked Donati if he could bring back his old paper bags that he used two weeks previous.

“Yes you can,” Donati said. “You can bring them back to the store and not get charged.”

Free reusable bags

Visit a city of Kent outreach table at one of the following locations to receive a free reusable bag (while supplies last)

Fred Meyer (10201 SE 240th St) – Monday, Jan. 27 – 3 to 5 p.m.

Safeway (210 Washington Ave S) – Thursday, Jan. 30 – 4 to 6 p.m.

Safeway (13101 SE Kent-Kangley Rd) – Wednesday, Feb. 5 – 9 to 11 a.m.

Safeway (20830 108th Ave SE) – Friday, Feb. 7 – 3 to 5 p.m.

Winco (21100 91st Pl S) – Monday, Feb. 10 – 10 a.m. to noon

Big Lots (1301 W Meeker St) – Friday, Feb. 21 – 3 to 5 p.m.

Fred Meyer (25250 Pacific Hwy S)*

Save U More (23636 104th Ave SE #1)*

Target (26301 104 Ave SE)*

QFC (13304 SE 240th St)*

*Date and time to be determined

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Reusable bags are expected to be used by many shoppers when Kent’s plastic bag ban begins March 1.

Reusable bags are expected to be used by many shoppers when Kent’s plastic bag ban begins March 1.

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