Chamber's Comments on Proposed Plastic Bag Ban & Consumer Fee
Chamber and Community Members,
We have received a few requests about the Chamber's thoughts on the proposed Plastic Bag Ban and Consumer Fee. In response to these request,s we wanted to provide you with a memo the Chamber sent to the Council early in its review of this topic. The memo outlines our position on the issue as well as concerns we have with the proposal. We hope this is helpful in understanding our position on this issue.
March 28, 2012
Issaquah City Council
C/O Council President Tola Marts
P.O. Box 1307
Issaquah, WA 98027
Dear Members of the Issaquah City Council:
I am writing to you in reference to Agenda Bill 6381, the proposed ban on single-use plastic bags and the implementation of a $0.05 (minimum) fee for the use of paper bags, now under consideration by the Issaquah City Council. After reviewing the issue and surveying our members, we are not in a position to make an official recommendation on the matter. It is clear that there is a significant difference of opinion between certain national grocery chains and other local and national retailers on the affects this policy will have on businesses and local consumers. There is also a difference of opinion among many of the Chamber’s members. Therefore, the Chamber is writing to help provide additional insight on the positive and negative aspects of the legislation we have discovered through our research and communications. It is our hope that this information is helpful to you in your deliberations on this topic.
First of all, the Chamber is pleased to see the Northwest Grocery Association’s support of this legislation, as well as the Council’s response to the Association’s request to ensure the proposed ordinance is similar to those in other communities. We believe it is the goal of all of us to see the legislation move forward at a State level to ensure businesses and consumers do not have to deal with a patchwork of varying ordinances across Washington. To the extent that a small community like Issaquah can and should be a part of a broader, evenly-distributed mandate of this nature for the benefit of the general public, the Chamber offers our appreciation for this positioning.
This support notwithstanding, it also is clear that there is an environmental trade-off with driving consumers towards paper bags. This includes increased carbon output due to the reliance on the increased transportation and manufacturing emissions of heavier packaging product, among other costs. We remain hopeful that the net environmental impact of this government mandate is positive, and trust that the Council has thoroughly examined this. It is important to ensure Issaquah continues its focus on meaningful energy and resource sustainability leadership, and not emphasize policies with high visibility yet only marginal environmental impact.
As a representative of the business community, we are pleased to see the provision of a pass-through of the cost of paper bags to local consumers, which will help incentivize the use of re-usable cloth bags-a goal we also share. This will ensure that some of the new costs of this regulation are passed along to local consumers in a uniform manner. However, at the same time, we are concerned about the aggregate costs that this pass-through will impose on local consumers. According to recent testimony, the average grocery store will incur (and pass along to consumers) net new expenses of approximately $100,000 per year in new paper bag costs. For Issaquah consumers, this means that the ordinance will cause approximately $400,000-$500,000 per year in Issaquah consumer dollars to be spent on bags. This represents a substantial net outflow of commerce from the community. We believe this figure should factor into your decision making process.
The Chamber remains hopeful that the increased cost of shopping in Issaquah due to this ordinance, however slight, will not cause shifts in consumer behavior in driving business to neighboring communities. Even a slight shift of consumer spending habits can have a major impact on a businesses’ margins, specifically in the retail sector. Just as important, shifting consumer behavior would have an impact on sales taxes generated for our community. With this, we urge you to remember that for every one resident in our City, an average 2.5 non-residents visit Issaquah to shop. Issaquah greatly benefits from this positioning and we would not want to impact our sales taxes as a result of even a slight shift in the regional consumer spending which Issaquah currently benefits from.
With the recent increase in the cost of gasoline, many local citizens and businesses have voiced to us a concern that this is the wrong time to add even the smallest of new costs to our families. Some feel that this sends a message of an insensitivity to the difficult economic times we still face, and that an incentive-based approach may be more appropriate. We would ask that the City monitor both the potential reality of the shifts in consumer behavior, and the negative perception of increased costs to consumers, and ensue mitigation strategies are in place should an observable shift in consumer patterns and City perception take place. The Chamber will continue to provide assistance to the City in this manner as a commitment to our partnership and betterment of our environment.
Additionally, the City should carefully weigh any increased administrative costs against the benefits of this legislation.
I am enclosing copies of comments we received from a survey conducted among Chamber members during the period of March 26-28th. The survey response rate was over 70 individuals, with slightly over half of the respondents indicating that they are not in favor of this ordinance. I hope this information is helpful to you. While these comments are those of various Issaquah citizens and businesses, please remember that they do not necessarily reflect the official positions of the Chamber.
Thank you for the opportunity to share these thoughts with you. If the Chamber can be of any further assistance in this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Chief Executive Officer
Greater Issaquah Chamber of Commerce
Added on 06/04/2012
Filed UnderLegislative Issues by Blog
|Click to register|
|Posts by Category|
|Bulletins and Alerts
Latest News & Events
New Board Member
New Chamber Members
|View By Author|
« Show All