New city crackdown proposed: Bag tax, foam ban

It’s been in the works for a while and now there’s an official proposal: The city is proposing a 20-cent tax on disposable shopping bags, and a ban on foam containers. Read about it here. (By the way, one last reminder – the first meeting of CoolMoms in West Seattle, profiled here, is tonight.)

32 Replies to "New city crackdown proposed: Bag tax, foam ban"

  • Elikapeka April 2, 2008 (2:37 pm)

    Well, I know I’m in the minority, but I don’t like the idea of getting rid of the plastic bags. I don’t buy trash bags. I use the bags I get at the store for our trash bags, for pet waste, for my litter bag in the car, to carry extra “stuff”, so on and so forth. Not to mention that there are times in a driving rain that it’s nice to have things in plastic so they stay dry. And those bags can be recycled. I’m happy to use cloth reusable bags when I shop, but now I’ll have to buy plastic trash bags and sandwich bags, so I figure it will come out about the same for us as far as usage goes.

  • OP April 2, 2008 (3:56 pm)

    Ah, jackbooted environmentalism at its finest. Always a riot.

  • Barbara April 2, 2008 (4:00 pm)

    oh good, something more to be taxed

  • Rick April 2, 2008 (4:24 pm)

    So will we have to pay a 20 cent per bag tax on the bags we already buy and pay tax on to put garbage in? This is getting really silly. Too bad we can’t legislate common sense. Oh would have to start there too.

  • Mollys April 2, 2008 (4:26 pm)

    When I first read this posting earlier today I was hesitant to comment, fearing I was in the minority on this. But Elikapeka, I certainly agree with you! I definitely reuse those bags and it will all come out about the same in the end. And Barbara, my thoughts exactly – something more to be taxed. IKEA already does it, but they charge 5 cents per bag…not 20!

    It will be interesting to see how this all pans out.

  • jsv April 2, 2008 (4:46 pm)

    I for one am thrilled about the foam ban. I hate eating out of styrofoam! We need to reduce our dependency on plastic bags. They are handy, but I’m sick of seeing them hanging in trees and on the beach, it’s disgusting.

  • Paul April 2, 2008 (4:50 pm)

    Well, my comments, as a small business owner, I think this is really dumb. First it will chase customers to the burbs so that they don’t have to pay the fee/tax when grocery shopping. Second, for the small business owner, its yet more accounting that we have to try to fit into our crammed day. Third, its just dumb.
    Does the chamber have any thoughts on this? Oh, and how do you think it will play to the tourists… You run into say Bartels before you hop on that cruise and the cashier says “oh that’s an extra .60 cents for your 3 bags”. I would be shocked.

  • Paul April 2, 2008 (4:52 pm)

    oh, I forgot, I am a big fan of the new cups tully’s has, but, the problem is the bottom drops out of them from time to time. So, that’s another thing that needs to be addressed, cause I am all for cups that compost.

  • Jack Loblaw April 2, 2008 (5:52 pm)

    Remember: It is a mayoral election year in 2009. This is simply pre-campaign nonsense. First it was potholes, now it’s plastic bags what will be next tougher leash laws ? Anything that will keep Gridlock Greg’s name in the press !

  • fiz April 2, 2008 (6:18 pm)

    Somebody voted them into control over our lives. ‘Twasn’t me.

    In the meantime our bridges are fallilng down and streets becoming a disgrace, public transportation is inadequate, some of our parks are unsafe, but by golly, we won’t be putting our veggies in plastic bags anymore!

  • SLK April 2, 2008 (7:03 pm)

    I read the News Advisory, and I think it’s a great plan. It’s about time we each started paying for at least a small portion of the resources we use. Environmental consciousness doesn’t seem to be enough of an incentive for most people to stop wasting resources. I can only hope passing on some of the expense will help.
    BTW, small business owners will get to keep the 20 cents; other businesses will keep 5 cents to cover administration costs. Also, the City intends to actively promote and distribute reusable bags, with many being given out for free.

  • KatherineL April 2, 2008 (7:27 pm)

    Here’s a good small business opportunity if this goes through. How many have enough strong cloth bags to do all their shopping? These cloth bags the stores are selling really don’t hold a lot of milk and juice. PCC used to sell great canvas bags, but lately their bags are flimsier, too. Do you sew? Start making heavy cloth bags. It’ll be cheaper to buy them from you than to pay 20¢ for every plastic bag.

  • Admiral Janeway April 2, 2008 (7:57 pm)

    The plastics industry have vigorously fought every city that has proposed a plastic bag ban. Although this is not a ban, you can expect the industry and their lobbyists to fill local TV, radio and print media with anti-tax, pro-plastic messages.

  • Dawson April 2, 2008 (8:01 pm)

    So now I guess I just leave the pet waste on people’s lawns? Or maybe I just carry a shovel around and pick up the poo and put in a random trash can? Ahh yes, our fine government officials legislating what doesn’t need fixing and avoiding what does need fixing.

  • barmargia April 2, 2008 (8:03 pm)

    I am not so much pro plastic, but I am a little pissed that if I go to the grocery store and my groceries don’t fit into my bag that I brought with me (because sometimes I buy more than what is on my list) I will be charged for having to get a plastic bag to supplement the bag I have. When that happens I get a plastic bag because at stores like Safeway the paper bags don’t have handles and more often than not I am walking to and from the store.

    As for what SLK said about the City intending to promote and distribute for fee reusable bags, I doubt that because this city does nothing for free.

  • JumboJim April 2, 2008 (9:25 pm)

    What? Ya’ll can’t say the words “paper please”?? Is this really that big a deal?

  • JanS April 3, 2008 (12:10 am)

    I love the paper bags at Met Market…nice strong sturdy handles. Safeway bags need handles. I walk with a cane, so only one hand free to carry a bag(I live close to the store and walk). I have some of the 99 cent black “cloth bags” from Safeway. One came apart at the seams the second time I used it…not exactly a good buy, huh.Unfortunately, I also have “half-heimers”- lol..and forget to take the reuseable bags half the time.Guess I’ll have to work on that. This can be done, although I don’t have an answer about you dogs owners. And…what about the plastic bags in the produce section? They’re a necessity sometimes…we shouldn’t have to pay for that, I guess. If this passes, it’ll definitely have to make us think a little more, won’t it?

  • Bonnie April 3, 2008 (8:32 am)

    I love the paper bags at Trader Joe’s. I like them because I can use them for my food waste and just stick them right into the clean green bin. I don’t like the bags at Safeway either because they don’t have handles.

    I’m assuming if I go shopping at the Roxbury Safeway I won’t get charged because technically that isn’t Seattle?? (assuming…I’m pretty sure it isn’t Seattle!)

  • JenV April 3, 2008 (8:51 am)

    I agree with the poster saying this is just pre-election nonsense. I don’t know one person who doesn’t re-use both plastic and paper bags. I used to bring in bagfulls of plastic grocery bags to a friend with a big dog- she used them for poo. I use them for lunch bags, garbage bags, put them on my head when I used to bleach my hair….I even have a whole drawer full at home that I would probably never use in my lifetime if anyone needs extras! Morgan Street Thriftway’s new plastic bags are made mostly of recycled material. Will they tax those too?
    Mayor Nickels makes my head hurt.

  • Hamilton April 3, 2008 (8:53 am)

    JumboJim – the tax will apply to ALL disposable shopping bags, paper OR plastic. So as much as we’d all like to say “paper please” it won’t work…

    And the Roxbury Safeway isn’t in Seattle????

    I’m glad to see I’m not the only one outraged at this…

  • Danno April 3, 2008 (8:57 am)



  • dinolicious April 3, 2008 (9:55 am)

    Personally, I do reuse my plastic bags. But I read in the paper that there are other alternative bags (maybe like the compostable plastic bags at Thriftway) that won’t be taxed? I am a regular user of my own bags. The ones from Trader Joe’s are great- they’re strong & can hold much more than the plastic or paper bags. I also purchased some reusable totes from Costco. They are gigantic and would work for other non-grocery expeditions.

  • Jumbojim April 3, 2008 (10:30 am)

    Dear Danno,
    The “Caps Lock” key is the one on the left side of your keyboard, just near the letter A. I think yours is stuck. Or do you talk like that at home too??

  • Jumbojim April 3, 2008 (10:33 am)

    Well, stupid me, I assumed this was only about plastic bags. Still, those of you who need plastic bags will still be able to get them, just that they’ll be 5 for $1.

    I know everyone forgets things (like reusable bags) sometimes but with a little looking around you should be able to find some decent canvas bags. Throw a few in each car and you shouldn’t have to pony up for the no-longer-free shopping bags too often.

  • wsguy April 3, 2008 (10:39 am)

    It is truly a disservice to the citizens of our city that elected officials mandate policy based on “talking points” and bad science, which effectively take away our freedom of choice.

    At the Westlake Center Christmas tree lighting festival, the mayor implored all children in attendance to “save Santa’s reindeer from drowning at the North Pole” by replacing all conventional light bulbs with CFL’s to stop global warming. No more visions of sugarplumbs in Seattle children’s dreams, just dead animals. Sorry, Greg, but my house is a mercury-free zone, and Seattle’s electricity comes from zero emisson hydroelectric generation. Wake up.

    As for plastic bags, the study on marine mammal deaths carried out between 1981 and 1984 found that 100,000 marine animals were killed by discarded nets. There was no mention of plastic bags. This finding in this study were misinterpreted in a 1987 Canadian research paper to include plastic bags. There are several articles on this – just do a Google search for “plastic bags greenpeace”. To quote from a recent article: A senior spokesman for Greenpeace said “It is unlikely that many animals are killed by plastic bags. The evidence shows just the opposite”. Also: “plastic bags may actually be good for the environment and eco-friendly in solid landfill, because of their stabilising qualities, leachate minimisation and minimisng of greehouse gas emissions”. And: “critics say decomposition generally takes around 20 years and that it is pieces of solid plastic which are much more of a danger to wildlife”.

    Lots of good ideas on reduce, reuse and recycle. Our family has found lots of re-uses for the bags, and we recycle what we have left over. Tread carefully on taking away our freedom of choice, Mr. Nickels.

  • Beasley April 3, 2008 (1:30 pm)

    If they really care about the potential impacts plastic grocery bags have on our environment, they should start with teaching cashiers how to properly bag groceries. No more of these two or three item bagging jobs — talk about wasteful!

    Also responsible recycling at the store level would be helpful. I used to work at a grocery store and the truckers who picked up the recycle told me most of the time they just threw them out with the rest of the trash because they weren’t given enough time to deal with them properly.

  • m April 3, 2008 (2:48 pm)

    What’s the big deal? Sure, it’s pretty lame to have legislation like this, but it is clearly getting people’s attention about the issue which is good. I’ve been using cloth bags for years; sure I forget them sometimes, but it’s not hard to make the effort. Keep some in your trunk and you’re good to go. THey hold more groceries (I fill them up and have never had one rip, even those newer light-weight ones from Safeway or PCC), and I feel good about not wasting resources.

  • barmargia April 3, 2008 (3:48 pm)

    I did not realize yesterday but this tax includes both types of bags, paper and plastic.

  • LyndaB April 3, 2008 (6:02 pm)

    maybe we should save the boxes from costco and use it for our shopping! leave the box in the trunk of your car etc. i like the ones with the holes cut out for easy handling. i love box engineering. is there such a thing?

    where is the tax money going? i better go read about it.

  • Deeno April 3, 2008 (11:48 pm)

    I so appreciate living in a city where local government and a few poobahs keep us on the right track all the time. I’m sure Hizzoner is also planning on riding his bike to work or taking the bus instead of riding in his limo to make us even greener.

    I often get confused when asked the question ‘paper or plastic’ so now, this dilemna will be solved by our continually thoughtful and ecologically minded leaders. I gladly give up the paper to save trees to help make the wood for all the wonderful new construction which so enhances our community.

    I brag all the time to my friends in nearby cities about how ‘cutting edge’ Seattle is to do these things; they are so envious of our city government and it’s record of accomplishment over the past few years.

    I look very forward to the time when our garbage men get to write down who among us is offending by throwing the wrong things in the cans. I can’t think of a better use of city resources and energy than to use them in these types of ways. I also anticipate the thrill of buying a neighborhood parking sticker for my car windshield. I really hope they aren’t made out of paper or plastic.

  • helium3 July 7, 2008 (10:57 am)

    I think it’s a great idea, though complaints that the city has bigger problems to deal with have merit as well.

    I wish the city had done a better job of presenting the information though. I had to click through three different pages before I got to the section that actually explained how this would work. That part should be at the top.

    Those of you that are complaining about how terrible this is, how inconvenient, what a horrible infringement on your inalienable right to be a lazy ‘murican (ie whine whine whine) hate the planet. Seriously. You people need to stop being so intellectually lazy and start paying attention.

  • kittiergx July 9, 2008 (12:46 pm)

    Will the city have a bag subsidy program for poor people, junkies, transients and other who qualify??

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