Sunday, August 16, 2009

Seattle Plastic Bag Fee to Be Decided by Voters

Seattle's mayor and city council had last year approved a 20-cent-per-bag fee that shoppers would pay retailers. But the fee's opponents mounted a strong campaign against it and forced the issue to be put to a public vote.

Accordingly, on the August 18 primary ballot, Seattle citizens will be asked to approve or deny Referendum 1 on the city's grocery bag fee.

Seattleites use about 360 million plastic bags each year.
If the grocery bag fee passes, it would earn the city about $3.5 million annually. The money would be spent on enforcement and education.

Other cities like San Francisco have simply banned plastic bags. Washington, D.C., is the only city that makes residents pay for grocery bags, but it imposes its 5-cent fee on plastic and paper bags. Seattle's fee applies to both kinds of bags as well.

It's not clear whether the referendum will be accepted or rejected. While 20 cents per bag sounds like a small amount, it can add up quickly. Residents emerging from their latest shopping trips and counting the bags in their carts may do some quick mental math and realize that under the new rule, that trip would have cost them another dollar or two.

Will they simply accept that as the price of environmental progress? We shall see.

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