Battle of the bags? Peek at proposal to ban plastic, charge for paper

Though the plastic-bag fee/tax eventually got bagged, a new City Council move to get plastic bags out of the local waste stream is right around the corner. You’ve probably heard about it already; today we have a sneak peek at the proposal, thanks to a “Determination of Non-Significance” that landed in today’s semiweekly Land Use Information Bulletin. This is expected to be introduced in the City Council next week. The language in today’s notice would ban plastic and require stores to charge at least a nickel per paper bags – that would not be a tax, but would be kept by stores to help defray the cost of those bags. According to a story from the Seattle Times (WSB partner), people in our state city use almost 300 million plastic bags a year.

FRIDAY MORNING UPDATE: The proposed bag-ban ordinance (read it here) is scheduled for its official unveiling at a news conference Monday afternoon.

38 Replies to "Battle of the bags? Peek at proposal to ban plastic, charge for paper"

  • Diane November 17, 2011 (5:35 pm)

    I warned everyone 2 months ago that this would be coming

  • Tuesday November 17, 2011 (5:39 pm)

    Remember when California was basically bankrupt because of stupid legislation like this? Seems like Washington is eager to be in the same boat. I for one re-use these plastic bags in many ways and for many purposes. I’d venture to say heaps of people do. Here’s a suggestion… how about butting out of my personal life and minding your own business about whether or not I use a plastic bag in my bathroom waste basket? Guess what will happen if I don’t reuse my grocery bags? Um, I’m going to buy new bags to use. I know, it’s complicated. Try as you may, bag usage in life cannot be banned. This kind of stuff never stops. How about you come to my house and monitor my vegetable intake? McDonalds is terrible for people’s health, let’s ban all junk food! People are horrified/ irritated by the recent marijuana related government intervention. How about the same reaction for this?

  • Tbone November 17, 2011 (6:26 pm)

    Piggy and dumb. I’d pay a dime everytime I go to the grocery store to stop all the feel good crusade of stupidity that’s embraced Seattle and it’s representatives….

  • Alex November 17, 2011 (6:31 pm)

    I’ve always felt it was environmentally sound practice to get plastic grocery bags, then reuse those same bags to line my trash cans at home. They eventually end up in the garbage dump, filled with my kitty litter or something.
    Is that bad? What good would it do for me to have to buy separate garbage liners separately? That seems like itd be just as bad environmentally…

  • MSW November 17, 2011 (6:47 pm)

    Good greif don’t they have something more pressing than this. How about fixing our roads. We already recycle these bags. The council needs to get a life.

  • dsa November 17, 2011 (7:10 pm)

    This is a real nickel and dime deal.

  • carljr November 17, 2011 (7:40 pm)

    I agree with Tbone and MSW.

    I’ll keep shopping at Safeway at 26th and Roxbury, across the street from the city limits of Seattle.

  • flynlo November 17, 2011 (8:19 pm)

    Let’s ask the city council & mayor what lines the wastebasket beside their desk? Let’s ask how many pounds? tons? of plastic that are used each year by the parks department to line the garbage cans in the city parks! Let’s ask where all of this plastic ends up?

  • Interrobang November 17, 2011 (8:28 pm)

    Same opinion here – what a waste of time and taxpayer money. I thought we took care of this well enough last time.

    I’m all for the green movement when it works, but honestly, but the persistance of this issue seems to show another shade of green… one less associated with a healthier planet and moreso with naiveté.

  • 6578697 November 17, 2011 (8:33 pm)

    We should definitely ban plastic bags. That way we can cut down more trees to carry our groceries home.

  • John November 17, 2011 (8:41 pm)

    Far left lala-land: embrace your creation

  • Mike November 17, 2011 (8:49 pm)

    Election date is when again? Can’t come soon enough.

  • metrognome November 17, 2011 (8:51 pm)

    CarlJr — please, do.

    OMG!!!!! Life will end without plastic bags. Get the government out of my garbage!!!!! What’s next … needing a license to drive a car????? Believe it or not, when I was a child we trudged 14 miles through snow 8 feet deep to take our garbage out in, GASP, paper bags!!!!!!! When we were truly desperate, we would wrap it in newspaper. Truly the Dark Ages.

    300 million plastic bags a year in WA state alone. Just because the petrochemical industry has convinced you that you are unable to live a productive life without bags made from petroleum, doesn’t mean its true. I’m guessing that even after bags are banned, you will be able to find enough plastic bags to meet your needs blowing by when you walk down the street for the next 50 years or so.

  • Mack November 17, 2011 (9:13 pm)

    Plastics do not decompose. They just break apart into smaller bits of plastic.

  • Forest November 17, 2011 (9:41 pm)

    The council’s environmental grandstanding would be more persuasive if the bans extended to the “single-use” cards that candidates and political groups bulk mail to citizens before elections. And if the council fined “single-use” campaign signs that are posted on public property and not removed and recycled the week after elections.

  • Tbone November 17, 2011 (9:45 pm)

    Mack, what next then? The plastic wrap on meats? Plastic packaging?

    Personally, I’d rather have my chicken and beef wrapped in something sanitary (and yes, then bagged!) so it’s not dripping salmonella or E coli all over the place.

    If you have a problem, ethically, with plastics, don’t use them. Good luck with that, too. I’d guess 99% of everything in your house has some sort if plastic in it.

  • dsa November 17, 2011 (9:59 pm)

    My issue with this and others that the council members consider is that they never seem to care about what the final cost or inconvenience to the customer will be when compared to competition outside the city limits.

  • old timer November 17, 2011 (10:13 pm)

    IMO- the city council-
    impotent, ineffective, and useless when dealing with essential civic problems:
    transportation, public safety, homelessness, maintenance of basic infrastructure, etc, have seized on the one thing they can and will control and use to pump their flagging egos.
    The plastic shopping sack.
    They will have their way by damn, and we will obey!
    Yeah, and we might check to see if the Hefty bag folks have made any campaign contributions, as we will indeed have to get those bags somehow.
    Rant off:

  • Pokey November 17, 2011 (10:36 pm)

    It’s the City of Seattle way. Vote down something they want and they make it an ordinance anyway. Too bad we residents are always getting in the way of the Mayor and Council. Just think of all the good they could do if we would just leave them alone.

  • Matt November 18, 2011 (12:07 am)

    Despite the fact that many of us recycle these bags for home use, a great majority of them dont get reused and ALL of them end up as part of our waste mass. Despite how this may be executed politically, reducing waste benefits us all.

    Reusable cloth bags is the way to go and obviates the need to pay for paper bags with each trip.

  • sophista-tiki November 18, 2011 (3:59 am)

    I already take my own bags to the grocery store to avoid any extra baggage. but when I do need a bag I get plastic and then it goes to the dog park for poo pick up. Since the city stopped providing bags lots of people save their bags to take to the park for everyone to use. Not so easy to pick up poo with a paper bag. I’m all for reducing the amount of plastc in the world but why is government spending time on this subject RIGHT NOW! Aren’t there a million other things more pressing at the moment ( sarcasm)

  • Brandon November 18, 2011 (7:15 am)

    I agree that reducing waste is good. I don’t agree with them charging money to use a paper bag. Its fine if the retailer wants to charge, its their business. Paper bags are great for putting your recycle in.

  • Anne November 18, 2011 (7:38 am)

    If they want to ban plastic bags then ban them from ALL retail stores. I may be wrong-but I think this is going to apply mainly to grocery stores-where folks have to shop to buy food-but not to other retail stores like Target,Macys,Pennys.Fred Meyer, etc.

  • JAT November 18, 2011 (7:40 am)

    People tend to interpret new information though the filters created from their opinions and preconceived notions, so even if it could be irrefutably proven that the 20+ plastic bags in the stomach of the gray whale that washed ashore in West Seattle in April 2010 came through the households of the eleven commenters that followed Diane@1, they would still fail to see the harm in plastic bags and feel this is a useless waste of municipal resources / impermissible governmental intrusion into their “personal lives” / a scandalous slap in the face of our Great American Traditions of Plastic Bag Use….

    I support this ban 100%

    Can the odd plastic bag be a handy thing? Sure. Is re-using grocery store plastic bags (which, let’s face it – usually have a couple holes poked in them and are rarely sealed completely at their bottom folds) indispensable? Good Grief, No!

  • M November 18, 2011 (8:27 am)

    This foolishness is the direct result of constantly re-electing the same people for council time and again. They are simply doing what they feel we want them to do by our actions as voters.

    • WSB November 18, 2011 (8:46 am)

      To M’s point, just a datapoint here: Five incumbent city councilmembers – a majority of the 9-member council – were up for re-election this month, to 4-year terms. Here are the latest vote counts:
      Just one of the five had anything even remotely resembling a close race. This may truly reflect that most people are happy with how things going. But whatever you think – happy or not – it’s imperative to vote. Too many people don’t. So far, with the vote count winding down, only half the ballots the county sent out have been received/counted. And that’s just 50 percent of the registered voters … not counting how many tens of thousands of people are eligible to vote but not even registered. Besides deciding the fate of city councilmembers, there were also four school board members on the citywide ballot (two incumbents appear to be getting defeated there – and one was a shift in late voting – he was ahead after the first count election night) and several key issues, from liquor privatization to taxes … – TR

  • The Hepcat November 18, 2011 (8:37 am)

    Save the trees! We’ll need them for paper….

  • Chris November 18, 2011 (8:45 am)

    Didn’t basically the whole city council just get re-elected? Seattle, you bring it on yourselves. If you don’t like these measures, vote the people that keep coming up with them out of office.

  • flynlo November 18, 2011 (9:52 am)

    +1 WSB! Maybe everyone commenting here should have to show voter registration and proof of voting in the last election!!

  • Llolaleah November 18, 2011 (11:32 am)

    take your plastic bags, and your paper bags to the food bank. The clients that use the food bank generally can not afford to buy re-usable bags. They need something to carry thier groceries home in.
    Also, has anyone ever wondered what those re-usable bags are made of????????????

  • JAT November 18, 2011 (1:33 pm)

    Twelve question marks, Llolaleah? They’re made of dead kittens, everyone knows that!

    One of my Met Mkt bags is starting to de-laminate and smells like armpits, but I might have put stinky gym clothes in there.

    The point is, when it falls apart I will proactively throw it away – yes it will be trucked off to a landfill in Oregon, but during its life it will have preempted the use of hundreds of disposable bags and its plastic won’t end up scattered as micro garbage across the environment and in the bodies of animals I might want to eat and swirling in the North Pacific Trash Gyre.

  • eatt November 18, 2011 (2:14 pm)

    All I want to do is to walk my food home from the store reasonable dry and bring the garbage, recycling, and composting down the stairs with out having to clean up a broken bag mess. We got rid of our car and C cards 20 years ago, and try to do all the right things to make the planet a better place.

    What happened to those corn starch recyclable bags that were touted so much years ago??? They cost to much!?

    This countries cost of living has sky rocked out of control and it seems like everything wrong is blamed on the people. Mean while Corporations are making a killing…I am just hoping they throw us a bone before they’re the death of us.

  • MrZach November 18, 2011 (2:28 pm)

    From an objective waste stream standpoint, plastic bags wreak havoc on the machinery in municipal and commercial recycling centers (recovery facilities) by jamming many of the screens, rollers, conveyors, blowers, magnets, spinners and eddy current devices used to separate the recyclables. Jams = downtime = lost revenue = costs passed on to consumers.

    Found this entertaining video when googling the earlier comments regarding California’s plastic bag legislation:

  • Mike November 18, 2011 (6:44 pm)

    Here is one solution to solve for the alternative uses of the oil based plastic bag. You have to pay for it, but you are paying for plastic bags today. It is just you cant directly see the cost, but it is there in the direct cost to the store to provide these bags that they pass along and in the cost to dispose of them and deal with the damage they cause.

    What would be the harm in not polluting the earth with oil based products if there are alternatives? You can get reusable cloth bags made of hemp, not plastic.

    Seems like a problem that can be solved with no impact to people, except to the petrolium companies. We are not that far off anyway from running out of oil, so at some point a change will need to be made. I would rather save the oil we have for uses that are critical to modern life vs using it for the plastic bags I pick up.

    Seriously, do you think that local politicians are getting rich by proposing to ban the plastic bag? I think oil executives are getting rich selling material for plastic bags. I doubt they are really considering any future generation other than their own family remaining very wealthly.

  • dude November 19, 2011 (5:42 am)

    Big deal. Ban the bag. Cope with it. It’s better for everything and everyone. Use a reusable bag which pays itself off environmentally really fast.

    Quit crying. These bags deserve to be banned.

  • redblack November 19, 2011 (9:04 am)

    chris: this particular lefty is not happy with the way things are going in seattle, and i voted against every incumbent in the race.
    however, regarding the plastic grocery bags – why do you need to line any garbage cans except the one in your kitchen? i don’t line office cans or those in the bathrooms. i simply dump them into the kitchen garbage can liner on trash day.
    Tbone: your meats should not be dripping salmonella or E-coli. if they are, you have other problems.
    seriously, though, since all food waste is compostable in seattle now, our trash volume and the amount of food waste that goes down the sink disposal has dropped dramatically.

  • Paul November 19, 2011 (5:48 pm)

    why such an uproar against plastic shopping bags but I don’t hear a peep about garbage bags which are plastic? are you telling me nobody here against plastic shopping bags are using plastic garbage bags?

  • Angie November 22, 2011 (12:17 pm)

    I’m all for going green! But why is anything that is recycled or made out of recycled material so expensive? Shouldn’t it be made affordable so everyone wants to buy it? I use all my plastic bags to line my trashcans at home. I’ll even ask for paper to sit next to my trashcan to put recyclables in it. I don’t see this going very far, least us West Seattle People isn’t that on board.

Sorry, comment time is over.