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April 10, 2008

Seattle Officials Propose 20-cent Grocery Bag Fee

The Seattle Times 04.03.08Ap_plastic_bag_080229_mn

Using Ireland’s successful plastic bag tax as a model, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels is proposing a 20 cent “green fee” on all disposable bags. The proposed fee is the first of its kind in the nation made by a mayor striving for a legacy of environmental stewardship. If the City Council approves, the fee would go into effect January 1. In an effort to ease the transition, the city will mail one reusable shopping bag to each household.

Our Take: Kudos to Mayor Nickels! This is big news – we’ve been laying down the challenge to US politicians for several years to take the bold move and implement a Plastax modeled initiative. (For the record San Francisco did attempt a “loosely” based model in 2005 which failed.) With Ireland’s disposable-bag use down 90 percent, Seattle is on the right track. Plastic industry interests will work hard to derail this since in all likelihood it will start a trend…it will be interesting to see what happens. What do you think?

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I think this is an amazing move. Rock on Seattle!

You would think that this would get the plastic industry to think outside the box and use other plastic items to recycle like your bags that I bought. But just like the oil industry they are fat, dumb and happy and loving the money they are sucking out of us instead of using the money to do research to make more eco-friendly products. Shame on them.

This is such a great idea, I only wish it was for the entire state. I have lived in Washington for many years, was born in Seattle and I want to do whatever I can to protect it environmentally.

Great idea but I am concerned about the people for who this fee could add an extra expense they cannot afford. Why can't the stores make available, at very low cost, reusable bags (with their logo for advertising)or maybe once a year FREE cloth bags in limited quantity for consumers. It will take a long time for consumers to get in the habit of bringing their own bags but in the end it would be worth the expense the stores must endure. Surely they can pass this expense along to the consumer as they do with other things. There is a store in my are that doesn't even offer paper bags, it's all plastic and if you buy 7 items, you are certain to walk out of that store with 6 or 7 plastic bags. It's shameful and I don't shop there because of this practice.

I think plastic bags should be banned outright and pressure should be put on manufacturers to make biodegradable bags from renewable resources. When we have trash islands twice the size of Texas floating in the pacific (and probably other oceans) weighing 3.5 billion tons and made up of 80% plastic, we have reached a point where drastic measures have to be taken to reduce consumption. If people have to buy a couple reusable bags, toobad. You CAN afford it. At most stores they are sold for under $1 a piece. Quit bitching and get with the program. Saving the planet should not be an option. It's embarassing and it's a shame that proposals like this arent being embraced across the entire country.

I agree with Sara Brown, plastic bags should be banned alltogether. The world is full of reusable totes & bags. You just need to remember to bring them along when you shop, and trust me that's an easy task!

The idea of a tax doesn't sit right with me. I don't have confidence in our elected officials to spend the money for its stated purpose. What I would rather see is a .25 - .50 per bag deposit that would be refunded by the store when the bag is returned to the store. Any store using plastic bags would have to refund the money on bag similar to the ones they use. When I was a kid (long, long ago and far far away) pop bottles had a .02 deposit on them and quart bottles had a .05 deposit on them. This was in the days when cokes were a nickle, phone calls were a dime and chocolate bars were a nickle. You could get into the Saturday matinee for a dime. So, for a couple of cartons of 10 oz bottles or a couple of quart bottles collected on Saturday morning, you were set for the day at the movies. Fast forward to present day. A small coke at MacD's is about .79. If you can find a pay phone that works, 3 minutes is .75. We are still collecting 3 cents on small bottles and a dime on big bottles. If the deposit were .50 and $1.00 and any store that sold bottled goods were required to take them back, you wouldn't find plastic bottles anywhere. Beer cans should be .50 a can and Colt 45 bottles should be a buck apiece. But a tax? No way. If you trust politicians to do the right thing, then I guess a tax is okay. Sorry, I've been around too long.

The concept sounds great and I'm all for it but I don't trust that the tax would go where it should go. I like the idea of a deposit like we had on soda bottles years ago. When you bring the bags back to the store where you shop, you could get that back as a credit towards your groceries. Now if the tax is passed, why not fund programs for the hunger in your community! I think all grocery stores in the country should be required to sell the reuseable tote bags as cheap as possible so nobody complains that they're too expensive. Here in New Jersey it's catching on.

What about plastic trash bags (not shopping bags) - how do you eliminate those? The disposal company (here at least) requires that all trash be in plastic trash bags.

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