As of Earth Day, April 22, a new ordinance that bans single-use, plastic carryout bags at retail stores is now in effect. The ordinance is modeled after similar requirements adopted in many other Washington communities.
The new regulation is intended to reduce plastic litter, minimize harm to fish and other marine animals, and encourage consumers to purchase more sustainable, long-lived, reusable bags, the city said.
Plastic bags do not biodegrade, instead breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces that are often consumed by fish and birds and other wildlife.
Stores are still allowed to distribute standard paper grocery bags. Unlike many other regional cities with bag regulations, the City Council elected not to impose a mandatory five cent pass-through charge on paper grocery bags. There are exceptions.
For more information on what is acceptable and other nuances of the ordinance, go to www.mercergov.org.