Seattle Bans Plastic Bags
The Seattle City Council unanimously passed a controversial ordinance this week that bans the use of disposable plastic bags and charges a 5-cent fee for paper bags. The Council hopes the law encourages shoppers to use environmentally-friendly reusable totes rather than disposable bags.
This is not the first time Seattle leaders have tried to limit plastic bag use. In 2008, city officials implemented a 20-cent plastic bag fee. The law was repealed a year later after a $1.4 million lobbying effort by the plastics industry. It is unclear whether the plastics industry will try to fight the new ban.
Seattle residents use roughly 292 million plastic bags and 68 million paper bags every year. Only about 13 percent of plastic bags are recycled in the city.
The new law applies to grocery, retail, convenience and home-improvement stores. It does not apply to produce or restaurant take-out bags. The ordinance also exempts low-income residents from having to pay the paper bag fee. The bill will be sent to Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn for approval and is scheduled to go into effect in July 2012.
Other cities, such as San Francisco, Washington and Portland, Ore., also instituted plastic bag bans and fees. If these bans are successful at shifting behaviors on the national level, promotional tote bags could easily become the most coveted giveaway.
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