Small businesses against possible plastic bag ban in Tacoma

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TACOMA -- Will Tacoma be the next city to ban plastic bags? The public will have a chance to weigh in Tuesday night at an open house to discuss a proposed ordinance.

“No one listens to the small Mom & Pop store,” says Dennis Vercillo, the owner of Vercillo’s Catholic Book and Gift.

Right now he give his customers plastic bags. They only cost about 2 cents each, something that he’s absorbed in his business plan. If plastic bags are banned, he’ll have to find different bags, which could cost five times as much.

“We don't have that much of a volume to pass that cost on, and we won't pass that cost on. So it's just an added burden to us.”

Several cities in Washington, such as Seattle and Bellingham, have banned plastic bags. Some customers in Tacoma say it’s time to do the same.

“A lot of plastic bags like this don't biodegrade at all or not for 100 years,” says shopper Dallas Madsen. “I think we should be very concerned for the future of our environment.”

The city of Tacoma has been studying the issue and found nearly half of the people who responded to a public survey favored a plastic bag ban. But business owners have a much different view. More than 70% of them are against a ban.

“Why would you try to ban something that makes up less than 1% of the waste stream?” asks Michael Johnson.

Johnson, the owner of Poly Bag, says plastic bags aren’t as bad for the environment as some people think.

“They’re made so it uses less resources,” he says. “It’s easier to recycle, easier to transport and to pack.”

He also says they’re more affordable for the people living in Tacoma and the small businesses that are just trying to get by.

“I didn't think we would come to here,” Vercillo adds. “It just doesn't make any sense for the small business to continually have to add costs.”

The city’s open house will be at the Tacoma Public Library at 6 p.m. Tuesday. For more information on the proposed ordinance, click here.

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