Will Mercer Island become state's 11th city to ban plastic bags?

MERCER ISLAND, Wash. - Talk about banning single-use plastic bags has made its way to Mercer Island, but not everyone on the City Council is ready to carry out the idea.

During a meeting earlier this month, councilmembers voted 5-2 to move forward with plans for drafting a proposed bag ban ordinance. Opposition came from councilmembers Mike Cero and Jane Brahm, both citing their own reasons for voting no.

Cero said it comes down to health concerns and studies showing the potential threat of food-borne illnesses with reusable bags.

"There was a study in San Francisco done that discovered E.coli in San Francisco jumped 50 percent since the ban was put in place in 2007," Cero said.

For Brahm, the question over banning plastic bags is one, she believes, should be considered on a state-wide or regional basis.

"Mercer Island has long been a leader in recycling and other initiatives to improve the environment, and I'd have preferred a positive campaign to use less packaging and bags of all types rather than a ban on a particular product," Brahm said.

Community members who are collecting signatures in support of a plastic-bag ban on the island believe the ban will help preserve and protect marine environments and animals.

The Mercer Island City Council will revisit the ban during its meeting Nov. 18. This will be the first reading of a city-wide ordinance and will be the public's first chance to comment on it.

Ten Washington cities, including most recently Olympia, currently have plastic bag bans on the books. However, Issaquah's ban could be repealed after a citizen-led initiative campaign collected enough signatures to have it put on the ballot for voters to decide. A special election will be held in February.