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Plastic bag ban goes into effect in Gig Harbor later this month

Here’s how long it takes for the most common types of trash to decompose in the ocean

Trash is a major problem in our oceans, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Here's how long it takes for some of the most common types of trash to decompose — including straws, plastic bags and balloons.
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Trash is a major problem in our oceans, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Here's how long it takes for some of the most common types of trash to decompose — including straws, plastic bags and balloons.

Gig Harbor’s plastic reduction ordinance will go into effect June 18.

The ordinance calls for a ban on most single-use plastic shopping bags in Gig Harbor. The ordinance will be put into effect at retail establishments such as grocery stores, department stores, hardware stores, pharmacies, liquor stores and restaurants.

According to City Council member Jeni Woock, Gig Harbor stores including Safeway, Albertsons, Fred Meyer and Home Depot use a combined total of 9,962,104 plastic bags every year, or 192,211 plastic bags a week. That does not include smaller retail stores in the city.

“Paper bags are better for the environment because, although they cost energy to produce, you can use them more, and the main reason is paper bags disintegrate — plastic bags will be around for hundreds of years,” Woock said.

The ordinance was approved at the Dec. 10, 2018 City Council meeting.

“You won’t see plastic bags blowing around in the city,” Woock said. “You just won’t see them in our environment. The landfill our trash goes to will be full in around 14 years, so even though the bags are flat, when you put thousands of them in there it will be amazing amount of space we will be saving.”

People are encouraged to bring reusable bags to shops and stores, Woock said.

“That’s the purpose of the ordinance,” she said.

Plastic bags still will be available for bulk foods and produce at grocery stores and the like.

“I want to thank all the citizens for getting on board and supporting this ordinance way back in the beginning and thank them for their patience as the stores begin to roll out this ordinance,” Woock said. “It may take a while to get used to but it’s a good thing for the environment.”

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