Seattle City Council OK’s bag fee

July 28, 2008 at 3:28 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 62 Comments

Here’s the official news release from the council – the fee kicks in next January (added late afternoon, the mayor’s news release, after the council’s version):

The Council today broke new ground by making Seattle the
first city in the nation to encourage its residents to curtail the use
of disposable bags and instead utilize reusable options by imposing a
fee on disposable shopping bags. A separate ordinance also bans expanded
polystyrene food containers. Council President Conlin said, “These new
laws are an integral part of the City’s Zero Waste strategy– and
translating Seattle’s environmental values into concrete actions.
They will help marine life, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and move our
City toward a sustainable future.”

One part of the package creates a fee of 20 cents for disposable
shopping bags provided at convenience, drug, and grocery store cash
registers, beginning on January 1, 2009. Seattle Public Utilities
estimates 360 million disposable bags are used in the city every year.
The proposal focuses on these stores because they are the source of more
than 70% of all disposable shopping bags distributed. The fee applies to
both paper and plastic and is expected to reduce the use of disposable
bags by more than 50%, or at least 184 million bags annually.

Councilmember Tim Burgess said, “These laws are a great example of
how government can help the market to implement necessary environmental
change. I support this particular solution because it maintains the
ability of consumers to choose whether to use their own reusable bags,
or pay a fee for disposable bags provided by the store. This is a
market-driven strategy to protect the environment.”

The clear plastic bags used for individual items such as fruits,
vegetables, and bulk items will not be subject to the fee.

In response to citizen concerns, the Council amended the legislation to
direct Seattle Public Utilities to help seniors and low-income
households by distributing free reusable bags and working with food
banks, people using food stamps, and shoppers receiving other forms of
direct assistance. The bag fee legislation helps businesses defray the
cost of administering the program by allowing larger retailers to keep
5-cents of every bag to cover administrative costs. Small businesses,
those grossing less than $1 million annually, will be allowed to keep
the entire 20-cent fee.

Some of the funds generated will be used to offset a portion of the
needed solid waste rate increase associated with new garbage contracts.
Part of the funds collected will also go to support Seattle Public
Utilities’ waste prevention and recycling programs.

By preventing the manufacture of this number of bags each year, Seattle
will cut greenhouse gas production by nearly 112,000 tons over a 30-year
period. This reduction in the use of plastic bags will also help marine
ecosystems by eliminating some of the plastic that ends up in our oceans
and the Puget Sound. A similar fee in Ireland achieved a 90 percent
reduction in use from 325 to 23 bags per person per year.

Another part of the new proposal will ban expanded polystyrene food
containers from restaurants and packaging from grocery stores, beginning
January 1, 2009. In July of 2010, foam trays for raw meat and seafood
will also be banned and replaced with compostable alternatives. Expanded
polystyrene foam not only adds to the waste stream, but also presents a
hazard for birds because it breaks up into indigestible pellets. There
are better products that are readily available and serve the same
purpose.

This latest initiative grew out of Council President Conlin’s work as
chair of the Council’s Environment, Emergency Management, and
Utilities Committee in developing a comprehensive strategy to reduce the
City’s solid waste. As a result, the Council passed the Zero Waste
strategy in July 2007 to improve recycling and waste reduction. The
organizations Foam Free Seattle, Bring Your Own Bag, and People for
Puget Sound urged inclusion of the bag fee and the polystyrene container
ban in the Zero Waste strategy, and played key roles in mobilizing
public support for these ordinances.

Added late afternoon: Here’s the mayor’s version of the same news release:

Mayor Nickels Applauds Councils Passage of Green Fee on Shopping Bags, Ban on Foam
Nickels: The answer to the question paper or plastic is neither.

SEATTLE Mayor Greg Nickels applauded the City Council today for passing a 20-cent
green fee on all disposable shopping bags at the citys grocery, drug and convenience
stores, effective Jan. 1, 2009. The plan also calls for a ban on foam food
containers.

The answer to the question paper or plastic has officially become neither, said
Nickels. The best way to reduce waste is not to create it, and today, we have made
that a little easier in Seattle.

Seattle Public Utilities estimates 360 million disposable bags are used in the city
every year, most made of plastic. The green fee is intended to encourage and
promote the use of reusable shopping bags. The city will distribute these bags and
promote their advantages to every household in Seattle, with additional bags going
to low-income families. Retailers will keep 5-cents of every disposable bag sold to
cover administrative costs. Retailers grossing less than $1 million annually will
keep the entire 20-cent fee.

Charging a fee for disposable bags will cut the number of throw-away bags coming out
of grocery, drug and convenience stores by an estimated 70 percent or more,
according to the citys analysis, and will reduce the use of disposable shopping bags
in Seattle overall by more than 50 percent. By preventing the manufacture of 184
million bags a year, Seattle will cut greenhouse gas production by 4,000 tons per
year, equivalent to taking 665 cars off the road. A similar fee in Irelandachieved
a 90 percent reduction in use from 325 to 23 bags per person per year.

The proposed ban on foam containers used by the food service industry would include
such items as plates, trays, clamshells and hot and cold beverage cups used at
restaurants, delicatessens, fast food outlets and coffee shops, and egg cartons used
at grocery stores. The legislation would also require that by July 1, 2010, all food
service businesses currently using disposable plastic or plastic-coated paper
products convert to packaging that is compostable or locally recyclable, including
meat trays used at grocery stores.
To smooth the transition, the city will set up business advisory committees
representing the retail and restaurant sectors. In addition, the city will help food
service businesses work together for lower prices on new compostable products.

62 Comments

  1. because, y’know, they’ve solved all of Seattle’s other problems….

    Comment by Jen V. — 3:31 pm July 28, 2008 #

  2. My hat’s off to the council for taking a strong stand against gross wastefulness.

    Comment by flowerpetal — 3:40 pm July 28, 2008 #

  3. I guess I will start shopping before I leave work in Bellevue. I like to support local stores but this is ridiculous!

    Comment by Matthew L. — 3:44 pm July 28, 2008 #

  4. Good thing people aren’t getting dinged 20 cents for every time they whine about this. There’d be a lot of empty pockets about.
    I’m with flowerpetal on this one.

    Comment by JumboJim — 3:56 pm July 28, 2008 #

  5. I’m recalling an article from last week’s West Seattle Herald where it states that Portland didn’t start seeing the benefit of the “bag” tax until the tax was at 33 cents per bag.
    .
    20 cents seems pretty reasonable to me..

    Comment by Johnny Davies — 4:01 pm July 28, 2008 #

  6. how exactly is it “gross wastefulness” when you are re-using the plastic bags? People use them to pick up dog poop, I use them over and over again for lots of things. Nine times out of ten, I use paper bags, but when I do get plastic, it gets re-used- and I don’t feel like I am wasting resources. It’s fine that the city wants to do this- I can avoid it- I just think there are more important things they could be focusing on- like fixing the eighteen million potholes or something useful like that.

    Comment by Jen V. — 4:03 pm July 28, 2008 #

  7. I was just wondering about sanitary issues. Where will the line be drawn when people are using old, dirty, pet hair covered canvas bags? Yes, there will be people trying to use such bags…

    Comment by c.c. — 4:07 pm July 28, 2008 #

  8. Unbelievable! Now there will be more plastic waste in the landfills because people have to buy the plastic garbage bags. I re-used the paper shopping bag for my trash which I feel is a better alternative than using plastic for trash. This will really help…..NOT!

    Comment by Stephanie — 4:08 pm July 28, 2008 #

  9. So, if I shop at Trader Joe’s in Burien or Safeway on Roxbury I won’t get charged the 20 cents because those stores are not in the Seattle City limits, right?

    I do carry my own bags with me though so I’m more than happy to use them. I do like to get some paper bags occasionally though to put my food waste in.

    Comment by Bonnie — 4:08 pm July 28, 2008 #

  10. That’s fine….I’ll just shop OUTSIDE of Seattle city limits.

    Kinda nice that I live 2 blocks away from the Safeway on Roxbury, which is outside of the city limits.

    WR

    Comment by Westwood Resident — 4:08 pm July 28, 2008 #

  11. Soooo, when are they going to start charging for the plastic bags the newspaper is frequently stuffed into? Are they going to charge for the bags you put your produce in? Is the city going to get upset when the kitty litter is just tossed into the garbage can instead of put in a plastic grocery bag?

    Comment by Rosa Umemoto — 4:19 pm July 28, 2008 #

  12. I understand that charging a fee will make people not want to buy the bags, but where is this money really going? If this was really about the environment then why not outlaw plastic bags altogether like in SF, or only make compostable bags available? Another tax for the people of Seattle, what a surprise…

    oh sorry, fee.

    Comment by roundthesound — 4:20 pm July 28, 2008 #

  13. This fee is a joke, I wish our city government would spend time on things that would really make a difference in our city.

    Comment by Slider — 4:20 pm July 28, 2008 #

  14. We may be the first city in the nation to impose this but after traveling in Europe and Scandanavia, we are behind the times. Many other countries are already successfully doing this and it definitely helps you remember to bring your reusable bags into the store.

    If we also try to reduce our garbage by recycling and composting (or use the yard waste containers) less bags will be needed for garbage.

    Comment by D — 4:21 pm July 28, 2008 #

  15. One of the more ridiculous grasps at publicity by an ineffectual Council.

    Count me out of shopping in Seattle ever again.

    Viva la Roxbury!

    Comment by Jill — 4:44 pm July 28, 2008 #

  16. I use my canvas bags all the time, and frequently run back to the car when I forget them or realize I am buying more than I thought.
    I know its dumb, but change has to start someplace. I do agree, and I am wondering when Waste Management is going to throw a fit because my kitty litter is not in a bag….

    Comment by paul — 4:47 pm July 28, 2008 #

  17. I’m thinking that the makers of Hefty garbage bags and the like are thrilled with this initiative. I think people will be able to live without plastic about as soon as they give up their car.

    Comment by Frankie's Mom — 4:48 pm July 28, 2008 #

  18. Pretty soon they’ll be installing the toilets they couldn’t sell on ebay at the end of each block and if we use our own toilet insted of the public toilet we’ll be surcharged $1.00 a flush.

    Comment by Pam — 4:57 pm July 28, 2008 #

  19. What if I go to the grocery store on my weekly run and purchase 100 or so items and I don’t bring a reusable bag AND I choose NOT to have my groceries placed in a disposable bag? Will the checker just pile them back into my shopping cart? Will he or she still ask me if I’d like help out to my car? Can’t me and boxboy/girl just pile them in my trunk? If my wife asks me to stop by the store on my way home to pick up a few items should I drive home first to get a reusable shopping bag? Is there a formula to determine how far I can drive before the greenhouse gas emissions override the shopping bag into a land fill. If I promise to NEVER throw the bag away can I get my .20 cents back? Does anyone know how much revenue the city will generate from this? Anyone ever notice there are a lot more cigarette butts on the sidewalk nowadays right in front of taverns? Anyone else ever been walking up the sidewalk with their kids and crossed the street because 5 or so drunks were standing on the sidewalk in front of a tavern, smoking and talking loud and dirty? Can we pass a law that charges smokers $5 for each time they go outside and come back in? I have to go now because this computer uses too much electricity.

    Comment by Help Me — 5:06 pm July 28, 2008 #

  20. Lets make sure we remember who on the Council thought this was a good idea at election time.

    Comment by Mr.JT — 5:21 pm July 28, 2008 #

  21. The Seattle City Clowncil at work again. What a joke.

    Comment by Danno — 5:22 pm July 28, 2008 #

  22. In response to Stephanie’s comment: People wont have to buy plastic garbage bags. As she pointed out, paper grocery bags work well for garbage (and they do “break down”). You’ll still be able to obtain them if you are willing to pay 20 cents per bag when you shop. I don’t think that’s a big deal considering that we already have to keep so much out of the garbage can.

    I’m in complete agreement with the bag charge. We’ll become accustomed to it just like we did recycling.

    Comment by DM — 5:26 pm July 28, 2008 #

  23. Long live Roxbury! Time for a new city council and mayor too!

    Trivia question for all the “green” folks out there too: What does Coke/Pepsi, mushrooms, bread, wine and dry ice all have in common? EACH either contains or produces Carbon Dioxide – also believed to be a contributor of global warming.

    Stop drinking soda, no more mushrooms on your Pizza or salad, no sandwitches! No more hugging your tree while drinking a soda with your lunch!

    Comment by Scott — 5:29 pm July 28, 2008 #

  24. I’m much more unhappy about the million extra disgruntled people I’ll have to wait behind in line at the Roxbury Safeway than about having to carry my own bags to the grocery store…

    Comment by Katie McA — 5:35 pm July 28, 2008 #

  25. this would be a good time for everyone to try AmazonFresh! :D

    Comment by JenV — 5:46 pm July 28, 2008 #

  26. Scott don’t mention all that, because next thing you know those items will be taxed.

    Comment by Barb — 6:19 pm July 28, 2008 #

  27. Sometimes I’m so sad to be living in West Seattle. So many tree haters, so many lawn-waterers, and now, complaints about progressive environmental legislation. Is this really the suburbs, or are we part of the emerald city?

    Comment by begreen — 6:26 pm July 28, 2008 #

  28. For what it’s worth, the plastic bag industry has initiated a web site to argue the case against new fees or restrictions that single out its product. The link address is: http://savetheplasticbag.org

    Comment by Alvis — 7:19 pm July 28, 2008 #

  29. To begreen:

    Your comment gave ME hope… I was beginning to wonder about the waste friendly “consumer entitled” attitude of West Seattle residents. Please don’t lose heart. I suspect there are a lot more people out there that DO support a decrease in generating waste (especially plastics) than oppose it. People have a tendency to complain rather than praise. It’s not the biggest issue our city has, but I’m glad they addressed it.

    Comment by DM — 7:38 pm July 28, 2008 #

  30. I don’t necessarily equate the arguments against this fee with being waste-friendly or anti-tree. It’s more about the method and implementation than the good idea behind it.

    Comment by GenHillOne — 7:56 pm July 28, 2008 #

  31. Ok, so we are suppose to use logo canvas bags to take our groceries home.
    Ok, now what are we suppose to use for garbage bags?!?! Because we still need to put the garbage into something.
    Ok, Windfall Profits for HEFTY…there is still going to be plastic bags in the land fill.

    Comment by Alki Res. — 8:10 pm July 28, 2008 #

  32. I hope the Council will now work on some real issues, roads, traffic, schools, lack of Police on Alki.

    Comment by star55 — 8:44 pm July 28, 2008 #

  33. So, now that the City Council has hung its halo on this one, can we expect them to get back to the mundane problems of this city – gangs, streets, utilities, and so on?

    Comment by fiz — 8:48 pm July 28, 2008 #

  34. Wow, seriously, guys? The amount of pure emotional catastrophizing over this non-issue is really something. Why is being asked to pay for an item that costs money to produce and that you’re taking such a source of indignation? Celebrate the fact that you got away with not paying for these things for as long as you did and move on.

    Comment by whyaminotdrinkingyet — 9:17 pm July 28, 2008 #

  35. i was in safeway on admiral today. $50 in groceries and the bagger used 8 bags for what i could have put into 4. so how is that going to go for the people who are willing to pay the $0.20? hold up the line to argue with the bagger about how sufficiently he/she is bagging…or hold up the line to bag your own groceries….

    and they will have to wait to total your bill and take payment until all this bagging is done.

    i hadnt even thought about cat litter….

    Comment by s — 10:08 pm July 28, 2008 #

  36. I agree. Everyone here is acting like they are entitled to free plastic bags. They aren’t free to the stores. And seriously, paying 20 cents once in awhile if you forget your canvas bags is not going to break the bank.

    Comment by dv — 10:08 pm July 28, 2008 #

  37. Is it REALLY that hard to bring a reusable bag? It doesn’t have to be a logo bag, there are ones that exist that don’t have them. Are you really so entitled that you can’t be bothered to do your part? I know it isn’t going to make some enormous impact, but these small steps are how you make strides toward positive change.

    How about for your garbage you use actual garbage bags? I kind of thought that was what people already did…I mean other than college students. I know I don’t want to take out the garbage every single time I fill a teeny tiny grocery bag.

    And if you feel you need a plastic shopping bag now and then for your kitty litter, how about fork over a measly 20 cents for one?

    I’m personally glad you all won’t be shopping in the stores I go to, it will be much more peaceful.

    Is everyone in this town this whiny? I thought this was a nice community.

    Comment by missaudreyhorne — 10:21 pm July 28, 2008 #

  38. Ok, “we are entitled to free plastic bags” ??? Don’t you think the store’s prices cover the cost of Doing Business…bags, shopping carts, shelving, refrigeration etc. We have paid for the bags in the price of the products.

    Comment by Alki Res. — 10:36 pm July 28, 2008 #

  39. I usually use a canvas bag but this move by Nickels was yet another example of why we need another mayoral election and fast. Encourage and provide some motivational incentives, or charge a token amount like $0.05 IF you credit those who use bags the same. But $0.20 for something that likely will overall just shift the overall garbage usage from one type to another, come on.

    Gridlock Greg – how about other real priorities with practical solutions?

    Comment by priorties folks, priorities — 10:37 pm July 28, 2008 #

  40. Woah, there are two Jills posting on this blog, and we are not of the same opinion on this issue. I’m the one who posts under this name in the forums and would like to be counted in the “find something real to complain about” camp. Thanks for reading.

    Comment by Jill — 10:39 pm July 28, 2008 #

  41. oops, not done posting. Hi s, I totally agree. Baggers need to be retrained in how much can actually fit in one of those things, and I think we can empower ourselves to let them know when they can fit more into one bag. Speaking as someone who does that regularly, even when I bring my own, I can confidently say that there is no holding up of the line in this scenario, but nice try. :)

    Comment by Jill — 10:45 pm July 28, 2008 #

  42. Since I’ve observed many people have broken sarcasm detectors on this website this comment will be free of sarcasm.

    * I really don’t think that, by not passing this bag/foam ‘tax’, the city would have been able to put more police officers on alki, fix potholes, or solved any of the city’s other problems. They have lots and lots of time to solve the other problems and they don’t seem to be very good at doing that.
    * I do believe this is a positive step. This will encourage people to reuse bags or buy cloth-ish ones. It’s not some vast conspiracy with Big Plastic. PCC sells reusable bags at cost for less than the price of four plastic ones come January. They are very nice.
    * You don’t have to have anything bagged. I never use bags for produce (unless it’s a lot of loose stuff like mushrooms, and those like paper better anyway). You can even put groceries in a backpack. I won’t tell anyone.
    * All of these bags get put in the landfill, or have to be recycled (of which I’m pretty sure most of them are in Seattle). That takes energy or space. They have to be made, too, from trees or synthetic materials. Knowing someone in the retail supply business I would venture that 95% or so of the plastic bags are shipped from China. I’m sure the ‘cloth’ ones are too but the less crap we’re shipping over, the less trade deficit, the less gas used… basically, go U.S. and A.
    * There is a point to be made about having to use plastic bags to put your trash in. But the bigger the bag, the less plastic you have to use, proportionally, for the same amount of trash. If you don’t like using plastic bags at all for trash (as some of you sort of half-assedly argued) then maybe you should write Hefty or Big Plastic and ask them to develop biodegradable tall kitchen bags. I’m sure people would buy that stuff hand over fist anyway. But then you’d be giving them profits. I feel for your future ethical dilemma.

    Honestly, for those that are pissed about this, just try the cloth bags. They are really nice, they carry more, they don’t break and spill your OE 800′s all over the street, embarrasing you in front of your neighbors, etc, etc.

    Comment by amnesiak — 10:51 pm July 28, 2008 #

  43. Ways to not pay the bag tax (which is the goal of said tax):

    - If you drive to shop for groceries, by all means place items directly into your car without another layer of packaging (plastic bag) wrapped around it. Think about which items actually need a bag – milk, OJ, diapers, 6-pack, etc definitely don’t need a bag. They have built-in handles.

    - If you frequent the store several times per week as I do, two or three canvas bags are enough. Mine have held up for 2+ years.

    - Pay the tax on 5 bags, take bags with you to the grocery store the next few weeks, throw away or use for pet doodoo. cost – $1/month

    - And for those who complain that the plastic bag is already re-used… Isn’t $.20 a reasonable price for a bag you use to cart groceries, then use to carry lunch to work, then use as a convenient way to carry home dog poop?

    Comment by KC — 11:06 pm July 28, 2008 #

  44. I would like to weigh in as checker at a retail store. I already have to argue with people who bring in their own bags that no I can’t shove an entire cart of stuff into 2 reusable bags now you are asking me to argue with money in the picture? I already groan when people come in with reusable bags because no one remembers until after I’m two bags in. Now i’m just talking enviromentaly concious people into plastic bags now I’ll have to charge single mums and college students who just moved here 20 cents a bag. I think this is a dumb law. Good goals and good motives but a poor enactment.

    Comment by Amanda — 11:20 pm July 28, 2008 #

  45. Pretty much everywhere else on earth you pay per bag. At Superstore up in Canada and Aldi in the States, you pay per bag.

    I’m not a rich girl. I have some pretty steep student loans. I get food stamps. 20 cents a bag ain’t gonna kill me, half because i’ve learned to eschew bags anyways and half because in a city where people buy $5 coffees on a regular basis and then turn around and poormouth, 20 cents is nothing. I wan’t aware regressive politics were this alive and well in Seattle, but then again look at how easily Nickels has cruised to victory twice…

    Comment by gwen c. — 11:27 pm July 28, 2008 #

  46. Ok, what about this/save all the plastic bags you can until cut off date…then people who can’t afford swanky designer grocery bags:-) or just don’t want to be Nickeled & dimed to death…will carry the “saved” bag into the store. Can you imagine the dirty looks they will get;-) However, I admit the canvas bags will be the future.

    Comment by Alki Res. — 12:15 am July 29, 2008 #

  47. Roxbury Safeway? I’ll go with the $0.20 per bag.

    Comment by CandrewB — 5:39 am July 29, 2008 #

  48. How about paying us .10 per cloth bag we DO use?
    Reward us, instead of punishing us.

    Comment by Sue — 7:07 am July 29, 2008 #

  49. Safeway and Met Market currently pay me when I bring in my own bags. I have 2 large reusable bags that I keep in my car and most of the time I remember to take them in with me. If I forget them, I run back out to my car to get them.

    Costco doesn’t do bags and all the shoppers there don’t seem to complain.

    Comment by D — 8:03 am July 29, 2008 #

  50. Thriftway pays, too. You get 5 cents for not using their bags.

    Comment by KC — 8:23 am July 29, 2008 #

  51. A smart kid will collect as many plastic bags as possible before the fee goes into effect, then once the fees begin, sell the bags for 10 cents each at the entrance to the grocery store.

    Comment by Kitrit — 10:02 am July 29, 2008 #

  52. amnesiak, biodegradable kitchen trash bags are already available. One company I am aware of is Biobags – http://www.biobagusa.com – which has kitchen bags, large lawn/leaf bags, smaller bags, even cat litter tray liners and dog waste bags, that are all biodegradable. I’ve seen some of these bags at Junction TrueValue Hardware and PCC, and I’ve orders others at http://www.wildorganics.net (most reasonable shipping I could find and the products I needed).

    Comment by Sue — 10:05 am July 29, 2008 #

  53. ^^ That’s really cool

    Now all we need are biodegradable malt liquor containers.

    Comment by austin — 11:45 am July 29, 2008 #

  54. Kinda makes me think about Seattle and recycling. If I remember correctly we’ve been one of the more successful recyclers in the country. And our city rewards us with the garbage police. ???

    Comment by Rick — 11:49 am July 29, 2008 #

  55. Sue, very cool – thanks! It just made too much sense, but i had never even thought to look for it before.

    Comment by amnesiak — 1:31 pm July 29, 2008 #

  56. I believe that the grocery industry is probably shilling at this point if we’re going for such paranoia as the “garbage police.” It’s 20 cents. Twenty bloody cents. We’re expected to take a .25 fare increase on the bus in stride, petrol costs 4.something a gallon, a bagel with butter is a dollar-fifty…but 20 cents for a grocery bag is worth scratching and clawing to avoid? I don’t buy it. You can waste the gas to go shop in Shoreline or Bellevue or White Center and pat yourself on the back that you paid the petrol taxes rather than a bag fee. Have fun with that…

    Comment by gwen c. — 2:18 pm July 29, 2008 #

  57. “Garbage police” are real people who collect real salaries. It’s just a nickname, but it’s what they do.

    Comment by Rick — 4:43 pm July 29, 2008 #

  58. Here’s something to put this all into perspective… think about this, our silly mayor is worrying about garbage bags in his effort to reduce global warming. Yet, the largest contributor to global warming and Carbon Dioxide continues to go unchecked here in the state of Washington!

    Mount St. Helens has been the source of some 2 TONS of Carbon Dioxide for over 25 years!
    That’s just in our lifetimes…

    How many plastic bags are equal to that much CO2?

    Comment by Scott — 4:48 pm July 29, 2008 #

  59. What, pray tell, is the formal title and salary grade of the “garbage police”?

    Or do you simply mean the sanitation engineers? Because, yanno, i’ve worked in trash and recycling related fields for quite some time and have never heard that nickname thrown about. Maybe it’s a California thing…

    Comment by gwen c. — 2:38 am July 30, 2008 #

  60. I’ve always been a big fan of recycling. Just read the City of Seattle ordinance #121372 that started in 2006. Just thought it was different response to what was previously deemed a very successful voluntary effort. Once again, the term “garbage police” is only a nickname and it does cost money to inspect garbage, write reports,send out fines, etc. “Just because I’m “paranoid” doesn’t mean they’re not watching my garbage.” Or following me…..

    Comment by Rick — 10:08 am July 30, 2008 #

  61. I get recycling and all. I support recycling, but in this economy it is beyond outrageous to charge this fee. It’s not “just .20 cents”. It’s at least 6 or 7 bags each time you shop (double that if you don’t want a big mess of stuff tearing out of the bag and rolling around the bus on your way home). So say 1.40 x (conservatively) 40 times a year comes to about $56.00. When a household income is under 27K a year and having 3 children to house, feed, clothe and educate…$56.00 comes in pretty handy for say ANYTHING ELSE than grocery stores already inflated income!

    Comment by Cyndi — 8:05 pm July 31, 2008 #

  62. You’re right that $56 is a lot to pay and could be used for something much more effectively with a low income family.

    But…I paid .73 cents for bags at the PCC which hold way more than plastics and are sturdier for bus trips. I bought 4 of them (plus the city is giving one each per family). I’ve been using them for one year and counting. Cost: $2.92. Long Term Cost: Priceless for my children’s future.

    Comment by aks — 8:29 pm August 18, 2008 #

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