Thurston County Connection Newsletter
Thurston County Connection
Thurston County Connection
December, 2014
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Changes at Thurston County Superior Court

(More) Changes at Thurston County Superior Court

County Benefits from “JBLM Day of Service”

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 Public Hearing to be Held on Possible Plastic Bag Ban

Meeting set for September 24

Thurston County Commissioners have set a public hearing for proposed legislation that would ban the use of plastic carryout bags in unincorporated Thurston County (with some exceptions) and would place a fee on paper bags. The public hearing will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 24 in Building One of the county courthouse complex.

The proposed ordinance comes after an announcement by Thurston County’s major waste and recycling collection provider, LeMay Incorporated, that they will discontinue collecting plastic carryout bags and other plastic film on October 1.

Thurston County Commissioner Cathy Wolfe is the commission’s representative on the county’s Solid Waste Advisory Committee. She says it’s important to hear from county residents at the meeting. “The end of plastic bag recycling later this fall means that we need to act. Our citizens expect us to act in ways that protect the environment and that keep costs down, so this legislation is what’s on the table right now as the best option for tackling the growing plastic bag problem.”

The Thurston County Solid Waste Advisory Committee (SWAC) and staff from the county’s Solid Waste Division have been working on the issue of reducing the use of single use carryout bags since November 2011. County staff members visited each city and town council early in the process, and again after a nine-month community discussion to seek recommendations. The SWAC suggested drafting a bag ban ordinance in their November 2012 report titled “Reducing Our Use: Plastic Shopping Bags,” which is available here.

The most recent community input on the issue was the formation last June of a 15-member stakeholders committee to draft the ordinance. The group drafted an ordinance similar to those in seven cities in Washington state. The proposed ordinance eliminates plastic carryout bags, and places a fee on paper bags in unincorporated Thurston County. Certain plastic bags are exempt, and residents using food assistance programs do not pay the fee for paper bags. If adopted, the ban on plastic bags in unincorporated Thurston County would begin on July 1, 2014, which would allow county staff about six months to inform and educate retailers and the public about the changes.

Leaders from five of Thurston County’s cities have expressed support for a plastic bag ban, and the draft ordinance developed by the stakeholders committee has been submitted to all of the incorporated cities and towns in Thurston County. “Based on the public input we received, one of our goals is to create equal footing for all retailers and a seamless shopping experience for the residents throughout all of Thurston County,” said Terri Thomas, Education and Outreach Specialist with the county’s Solid Waste Division. “But for that to happen, each of the cities would need to hold their own public hearing and pass their own legislation. We hope the county’s proposed ordinance can be used as a kind of template, and that all of the cities and the county working together can create a simple, consistent set of rules on plastic bags.”

For more information on the proposed ordinance, the Thurston County Solid Waste Division, the Solid Waste Advisory Committee, and the committee’s report titled “Reducing Our Use: Plastic Shopping Bags,” visit this page. You can also contact Terri Thomas at or at (360) 867-2279.

  • WHAT: Board of County Commissioners Public Hearing on Proposed Plastic Bag Ordinance
  • WHEN: Tuesday, September 24 at 5:30 p.m.
  • WHERE: Room 280, Building One of County Courthouse at 2000 Lakeridge Drive SW in Olympia

For those who are unable to attend the September 24 public hearing, written comments can be emailed to Terri Thomas at or mailed to Thurston County Board of Commissioners, Building One, 2000 Lakeridge Drive SW, Olympia, WA 98502.

By John Tennis

Come to the public hearing September 24. Come to the public hearing September 24.