Plastic carryout shopping bags have been banned in Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater and unincorporated Thurston County for nearly two years, so the county will be looking at the financial impact of the ban and other factors through a new survey and interviews.
That was a requirement written into the bag ban ordinance, which took effect on July 1, 2014. One aspect of the survey is already underway, according to the county.
Retail business owners and managers have been asked by the county to take an online survey this month to determine the ban’s financial impact on those businesses.
Cunningham Environmental of Bainbridge Island, a consultant hired by the county, will review the online data and submit a report to the county commissioners by July.
But the online survey is only one part of the work to be done, said Greg Gachowsky, a waste reduction specialist for Thurston County Solid Waste, a division of the county’s public works department.
Gachowsky and the consultant also will look at the effectiveness of the ban; the effectiveness of the ordinance compared to other jurisdictions’ efforts to reduce single-use carryout bags; and the waste and litter reduction benefits of the ban.
The other tasks will be accomplished through interviews with local government and other officials, Gachowsky said.
But one thing that won’t be happening, he said, is a survey of residents’ views of the bag ban. That already occurred after the ban had been in place for six months, he said.
The online survey results, plus the other data, will be included in the report to county commissioners. It also will be shared with Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater city councils, Gachowsky said.
The results likely will be closely watched in Lacey. Of the county’s three largest cities, Lacey was the last to adopt the ban before it took effect in July 2014. There have been a number of attempts to overturn the ban on the City Council, but each time the ban was upheld on a 4-3 vote.
Those council members opposed to the ban say it should be put to a vote of Lacey residents. A private group, called the Effective Self-Governance Association of Thurston County, even offered to raise money and pay for the ballot measure. But that effort fell short.
To take the survey, retail business owners and managers should go to: www.surveymonkey.com/r/ThurstonBagBan.