Plastic-bag ban/paper-bag fee countdown: 2 days away

While it’s shortened in most headlines to “plastic-bag ban,” remember that the other half of the city law taking effect Sunday is “paper-bag fee” – stores that offer paper shopping bags are required to charge at least a nickel for each one. That is not a “tax” – it’s a fee that is kept by the store (which of course pays to buy the bags in the first place) – but it will generate some tax revenue, since it’s counted as a taxable sale. Here is the city’s official informational page about the changes, if you’re still not clear on what’s happening. And here are a few interesting points as Sunday approaches:

*Canvas totes and cloth bags are not your only “reusable” options.

At Metropolitan Market (WSB sponsor), for example, you can also buy what MM calls a “wave bag” – 20 cents each – made of thicker plastic that is not subject to the city ban.

*A different type of reusable shopping bag was brought to our attention earlier this month when we published a “two weeks away” story. West Seattle-based Luke Decker Consulting says they helped design the “Mercado,” which could help you reduce the usage of smaller plastic bags too:

The ultimate farmer’s market bag, with pockets to protect delicate fruits and veggies, loops to hold bottles in place, and compartments to keep everything organized. A wide adjustable strap lets you choose the right length for carrying, so that you’re as comfortable as your produce!

You can see it and buy it, online only.

*Seattle Safeway stores will give away 2,000 reusable bags at each store on Sunday (or until supplies run out – but not before Sunday). The city donated 1,000; the company is supposed to be providing at least another thousand per store. Note that, in our area, that affects only the Admiral and Jefferson Square Safeway stores; Roxbury Safeway is outside the city limits, so not affected by the plastic-bag ban/paper-bag fee.

44 Replies to "Plastic-bag ban/paper-bag fee countdown: 2 days away"

  • JS June 29, 2012 (4:01 pm)

    Looks like I’ll be shopping at the Roxbury Safeway from now on.

  • David June 29, 2012 (4:05 pm)

    I, for one, am thrilled about this! Plastic bags are probably one of my biggest pet peeves and the fewer I see, the better.

  • DG June 29, 2012 (4:16 pm)

    Such a dumb law. I reuse every plastic bag I get. Now what am I going to use for my garbage bags? What will I scoop my cat litter into? Oh guess i’ll have to buy larger plastic bags from Costco.

  • Lola June 29, 2012 (4:28 pm)

    DG, go shop at the Roxbury Safeway and quit your whinnning!

  • Uncommon Sense June 29, 2012 (4:30 pm)

    Yes, paying for the things that you use, imagine that. Taxed for needing to use wasteful and destructive products, huh. Remember parents, this law is the result of your fellow citizens’ inability to act like responsible adults. Teach your kids how to behave and maybe the world they live in won’t need babysitting.

  • CN June 29, 2012 (4:40 pm)

    Both ‘JS’ & ‘DG’ completely miss a major point with banning plastic bags. Even if you re-use them..they’re still going into landfills and sit…and sit..and sit. If pet owners need to use something for their cat/dog “gifts” ..why not purchase biodegradable bags or even a package of small lunch bags just for that purpose? Once either are in the landfill, they’ll eventually break down..taking up less space. I personally think the stores here in W Seattle should try & take a page from the Costco/Sam’s Club book and reuse boxes..that can be recycled. Just a thought. Glad the plastic bags are gone!

  • Laura June 29, 2012 (4:49 pm)

    Target is within the city limits, right? They have the best bags for kitty litter.

    • WSB June 29, 2012 (5:08 pm)

      Yes. City limits go down the middle of Roxbury, with an exception here and there.

  • JS June 29, 2012 (4:52 pm)

    The government is always smarter than the people, right? That’s the way things are in China I think. Government runs every aspect of their lives. Seattlites are too quick to give all this “power” to government, thinking “yeah this is a good thing”. Then there’s something else, and something else. Too many apartments? Thank Mayor Rice. Bike lanes and bus lanes good, cars bad. OK – take car lanes away. When does it end? It doesn’t matter because Seattlites want government to do everything for them. In the immortal words of Earl Pitz, “Wake up America” :-) Let’s be careful how much “power” we give to government. That’s all I’m saying.

  • West Seattleite June 29, 2012 (5:16 pm)

    Oh, oh, this horrible. oh. oh, you force me back to fifties. oh, horrible

  • Amanda A June 29, 2012 (5:24 pm)

    They have been doing this for years in Europe. Germany, England, France, The Netherlands, and Italy are all places where you get charged to use the store plastic bags and you are expected to bring your own bags (to grocery stores especially!!) As a flight attendant who frequently travels to Europe I have a huge collection of reusable bags that I will be happy to use here at home. In fact, I already use them most of the time!

  • DRS June 29, 2012 (5:58 pm)

    Oh no! I’m slightly inconvenienced! It’s all the gubment’s fault. Next we’ll all be living in Soviet Russia.
    PS. This bag ban has invalidated my traditional marriage and given my cats autism!

  • Paying for what you use June 29, 2012 (6:37 pm)

    Paying for a bag. It’s not crazy. I’m sure the bag costs money for the stores to purchase, am I right? I think it is funny some feel entitled that the store give us as many plastic/paper bags as we need/deserve. Give me a break! Stop the entitlement.

    I’m an admitted environmentalist, but don’t agree with this ban. Obviously we have a plastics problem, but this ban has so many loopholes I don’t think much will come from it. It would be great if stores imposed a bag fee on their own though–keep the government out of it. Hell, not even a fee–they should just expect customers to pay for items they take from the store.

    I have a tiny handbag, and I always have a reusable bag stuffed in it. It’s not that hard. It’s funny how much everyone expects you need a bag for every single item, so wasteful. The first thing I say to cashiers is “I don’t need a bag” before they have the opportunity to shove my single orange into a plastic bag.

  • Question June 29, 2012 (6:54 pm)

    Make a law requiring all plastic bags to be compostable. They make them now. If this is really about the environment the city would do that. How many more trees will be cut down for the paper bags?

    I’m all for a clean puget sound the way this law is written is ridiculous.

  • WSTroll June 29, 2012 (6:57 pm)

    I am going to buy the thicker ones for twenty cents then throw them in the street when I done.

  • boy June 29, 2012 (7:20 pm)

    I want all you people that think this is so great to go down to where a lot of these bags are made and look at all the workers in the eye and tell them your sending them the to back of the unemployment line. Then go look there children in the eye and tell them they’re is no Christmas this year because you put mommy and daddy out of work. Maybe if times were better and work was easy to find this would not be so bad. But since times are bad and it is hard to find work what better thing to do then to put more people out of work.

  • scout 1 June 29, 2012 (7:35 pm)

    DRS, I totally understand! The bag ban has given my golden retriever many sleepless nights. He loves to chew up plastic bags and the idea that he can no longer do this will require therapy.
    I am sure the PTSD caused by the bag ban is something I and my dog can sue over…..
    oh the inhumanity of it all!

  • Mark June 29, 2012 (7:46 pm)

    Didn’t we vote on this and say no? Our elected officials now know better than us stupid voters?

  • Mark June 29, 2012 (7:47 pm)

    Also, studies show reusable bags have a high probability of containing e coli and other very harmful bacteria. Thanks City…

  • Steph June 29, 2012 (7:51 pm)

    Seems to me that everyone could be happy if the manufacturers of the bags just made a better product. I don’t make plastic bags for a living or anything, but couldn’t a bag similar to what we have now be made biodegradable? Shouldn’t that have happened years ago?

  • H P Resident June 29, 2012 (8:21 pm)

    I shop at Roxbury store?

  • Woodsman June 29, 2012 (9:18 pm)

    Gangsta’s shop at Roxbury! I like shopping their too. I like to give my money to all the bums out front. One time a guy asked me for some gas money and I said where’s your car and he said he took the bus! Anyway if you want plastic bags the have a 50 gallon barrel full of them just inside the door next to the ice machine.

  • 2 Much Whine June 29, 2012 (9:33 pm)

    How on Earth did we survive until the 90’s when plastic grocery bags were introduced? I think the liberal media must be covering up “the great bag plague of 47” and the “free poop scoop rebellion of 62.”

  • Paying for what you use June 29, 2012 (9:58 pm)

    Compostable bags usually don’t break down in landfills. Having compostable single-use bags is just “greenwashing.”

  • AJP June 29, 2012 (10:03 pm)

    “The government is taking over my entitlement to a plastic bag!” Ha! Love it.

  • Amanda June 29, 2012 (10:53 pm)

    Did you guys check out that Quirky site? Super cool!

  • Gene June 29, 2012 (11:27 pm)

    Mark, there was one 2010 study about the “dangers of reusable bags” that was sponsored by the industry and has been pretty thoroughly debunked. Should you wash/clean them every now and then? Yeah, you probably should.

    I think the best thing about this ban is that it gets more people thinking about reusing and repairing items, rather than just buying disposable items that “magically go somewhere else” (streams, river, The Sound, or a dump in Oregon in this case).

  • Mike June 30, 2012 (12:10 am)

    I like the idea of grocery stores using boxes like Costco does. When I worked for a Larry’s way back in the day, we’d put empty boxes in a compactor and then when it was full (at least once a day) we’d tie it up with wire and haul it off on a palette (required a fork lift, there was that much of it each day) to be sent to the recycler.
    People can complain about plastic grocery bags, but without them you’ll just find people buying plastic bags to use. As for ‘imagine that the store wants you to pay for it’ comments… ya, apparently you’ve never worked at one and know that the cost of bags is in your purchases. That markup, guess what that goes to? Small biz that need to charge for bags are going to get hosed with this deal,

  • bk June 30, 2012 (5:42 am)

    I completely agree with Mike. I’m glad we banned the plastic grocery bags and carry my reusable bags with me, but what about our plastic produce bags that can’t even be recycled? And what about everything else that comes wrapped in plastic: bread, cheese, meat, etc. And what about plastic garbage bags? I thought we voted this measure down already, and the charging 5 cents for paper sacks is a headache (as Mike pointed out). Why couldn’t they have just banned the grocery bag? Now, instead of paying 5 cents, someone who forgot their bags can literally go to the produce aisle, grab a bag, and put their groceries in it which defeats the whole purpose. I’m fine with the plastic grocery bag ban, but charging 5 cents for paper, before we eliminate other plastics in our groceries, doesn’t fix the problem, it’s just another tax. The stores already had the bags figured into their budget…it’s not like they’ve been giving us free bags all these years.

  • w.s. maverick June 30, 2012 (5:47 am)


  • Anne June 30, 2012 (7:29 am)

    Just wash your bags.If they’re cloth throw them in the washing machine–if they’re plastic wash out with hot soapy water &turn inside out or upside down to dry.A disenfectant wipe works too.It’ going to be ok folks!

  • Mike June 30, 2012 (8:56 am)

    Banning all plastic bags (produce/meat included) would require a major overhaul of how people think. The sanitary reasons for plastics is vital to prevent foodborne illnesses. Meat and seafood ‘can’ be wrapped in butcher paper and taped with masking type tape. Produce could be put in reusable bags as long as people clean them regularly and then wash all fresh produce.
    Both our vehicles have collapsible or tote type cooler bags. We use them for road trips and picnics. They also work great for those trips to the grocery store when we know we’ll need to store frozen and refrigerated foods for a short while (we use a proper cooler for camping or long durations with ice packs or ice in them). Eventually I want to get a permanent wired in fridge in my camping rig, then I don’t need to worry about ice packs.

  • Yardvark June 30, 2012 (9:47 am)

    Very cool. Well done, Seattle!

  • Uncommon Sense June 30, 2012 (9:48 am)

    Your shirt can be a source of deadly bacteria if you never take it off or wash it. Can’t blame being filthy on the government.

  • me2 June 30, 2012 (9:52 am)

    Last week, while at the Roxbury Safeway, I spoke to the checkout clerk about plastic bags, and he said they also were getting rid of them. Anyone want to check that out?

  • NikkiTaMere June 30, 2012 (10:22 am)

    Really, this should be the last word & bears repeating (altho I’d add a few lines about the Sanctimonius Seattlites who must attribute all evil to the plastic bags):

    Oh no! I’m slightly inconvenienced! It’s all the gubment’s fault. Next we’ll all be living in Soviet Russia.
    PS. This bag ban has invalidated my traditional marriage and given my cats autism!

    Comment by DRS

  • Rebecca June 30, 2012 (11:15 am)

    Actually, almost nothing breaks down well in landfills, because there’s no oxygen. Everything is packed in too tightly. Also, landfills aren’t much of a problem. The problem is plastic in the ocean. Which will still happen. All of the time. Unless companies are required to be responsible (which they aren’t), and we all stop driving so much (which we won’t), and we all stop eating so much fish (in Seattle? yeah right) the oceans will continue to be polluted, too acidic, and dying. (Think about that the next time you’re buying fish to put into your re-usable shopping bag and feeling smug).

    People who were responsible with their plastic bags by recycling them in bundles or throwing them away once filled with garbage or animal waste were not causing a problem. And yes, we will still be using plastic bags for cat litter. Lunch bags? Are you frickin’ kidding?

  • Tuesday June 30, 2012 (7:24 pm)

    I’m really looking forward to buying bags that will only be used once to replace the bags I am no longer allowed to use twice. Progress!

  • M June 30, 2012 (9:27 pm)

    Think of all the employment of loggers to clearcut forests to make paper bags. We used to use paper exclusively in the grocery business. Wonder if all those factories in the penninsula are still in operation.

  • Aaron Smoker July 1, 2012 (3:01 am)

    I agree that it is a step in the right direction to help the landfill waste management. BUT, why not make all bags biodegradable in general? Why not make all cars electric? Why not put a solar panel on every roof? Why not make an electric monorail throughout the city? OH WAIT! I have an idea, let’s let our basketball team be sold to oklahoma. Politics and religion. The REAL downfall of our society.

  • Faith4 July 1, 2012 (7:02 am)

    In an effort to help ourselves, as well as others, does anyone have cost-effective items to get to use for picking up dog poop, cleaning cat boxes, trash cans, and such? We have always reused to save money, as have others we know. We hate to have to pay for plastic bags that also now will go into the trash. We wonder if the City will install more dog poop bag holders for those with dogs?

    Lunch bags were mentioned but the City wanted us to double plastic bag cat box waste……oh, we are just frustrated.

    Appreciate any ideas to help us and others be cost effective re the new no plastic bag rule.

    Thanks so much for your help.

  • Wetone July 1, 2012 (8:29 am)

    Manufacturers of plastic garbage bags and such love these stupid laws. People will now be buying more of their products. Most people I know reuse there plastic bags for dog or cat waste, garbage bags and many more uses. This law only affects big grocery stores. All other smaller and large retailers has no effect on. Just another stupid City of Seattle feel good look how green we are law. They know what is best for all of us.

  • Faith4 July 1, 2012 (9:44 am)

    When I was out and about this morning, people were commenting on going outside city limits to shop. However, we saw that the big containers of used plastic bags were still available inside stores. We snagged some for our cat box waste use & will store them in the garage. This will get us through for a bit. Safeway, QFC, Fred Meyer all have recycle areas for plastic bags near their doors. We are just careful with these not knowing what they might have been used for & keep them away from other stuff.

    We also wonder if the recycle bag industry is going to put tags on these bags to remind people that they need to wash the cloth ones in laundry & clean the plastic recycle ones inside & out with disinfectant because of germs. Saw the information on the news recently where the three teenagers in Oregon got sick with norovirus because of the recycle bag & germs were still on bag when tested. It sounds like perhaps the cloth ones would be better since they can easily be thrown in the washing machine whereas the plastic ones have to be disinfected in and out.

  • datamuse July 1, 2012 (4:50 pm)

    If people can’t figure out on their own that they should wash cloth grocery bags occasionally then maybe a nanny state SHOULD take over. Good lord.
    (JS, have you ever actually BEEN to China?)

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