Starting a year from Tuesday, Tacomans won’t be able to get thin, single-use plastic bags at the grocery store or at other places they shop in the city.
The Tacoma City Council voted, 8-1, on Tuesday night to ban the plastic bags after hours of discussion and after a substitute ordinance that would have charged a five-cent fee for paper and plastic was brought before the group and then shot down.
Only Councilman Joe Lonergan voted against the ban of thin plastic bags less than 2.25 millimeters thick, but pieces of the substitute amendment he brought forward – including an exemption for traveling shows and events at the Tacoma Dome and convention center – survived and were added to the final ordinance.
The law will require retailers to charge at least a five-cent fee for paper bags and other carryout bags, and that fee will be kept by the retailer. Lonergan’s proposal would have sent that fee back to the city to help pay for recycling programs and for implementing the proposal.
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“I will be voting against this ordinance not because of what it’s doing or what it’s not doing around plastic bags, but because of the precedent it sets,” Lonergan said shortly before the final vote. “It has government charging a fee that it then allows someone else to keep for something, in this case, paper bags.”
Lonergan’s proposal to charge a fee for plastic and paper had support from Councilman Conor McCarthy and Mayor Marilyn Strickland, who ultimately voted in favor of the ban.
“I think we share the same goal of wanting to reduce the number of plastic bags we all use,” Strickland said after the substitute was voted down and before the final vote on the bag ban. “Let’s not let perfect be the enemy of good.”